The importance of vaccinating children was highlighted in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)'s 'Ending Preventable Deaths' Approach Paper and 'Health Systems Strengthening for Global Health Security' Paper, published in December 2021. It is for these reasons that HM Government (HMG) is committed to working with international partners to vaccinate the children of today.
These papers outlined the UK’s approach to improving maternal and child health through four pillars: strengthening health systems, reducing inequality, tackling the wider determinants of health, and research and innovation. Cutting across all these pillars is the UK’s commitment to improve the reach and equity of routine childhood vaccinations.
The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically impacted global health and immunisation, and I recognise that despite decades of progress in childhood immunisation, our collective efforts are falling short. However, I welcome the steps that the UK Government is taking to support efforts to get routine immunisation back on track and I am following all developments, including the ongoing efforts of Ministers and British officials towards the above end, very closely.
I am proud that the UK Government is a major donor to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to support their mission to immunise 300 million children and save up to 8 million lives from vaccine preventable diseases from 2021-25. Indeed, the UK has donated £1.65 billion to Gavi for this period.
The UK has supported Gavi since its inception in 2000, during which time Gavi has vaccinated more than 1 billion children in 78 lower-income countries, saving over 17 million lives. Alongside this investment, the UK is working with countries to build stronger primary health care systems as a core part of restoring immunisation services.
Indeed, investing in global health is a priority for UK development policy. It may interest you to know that the Government’s International Development White Paper, published in November 2023, reiterates the UK’s commitment to ending the preventable deaths of children, babies and mothers. This will involve strengthening health systems, supporting healthier lives and safe environments, and contributing to health technology, research and innovation.
I can assure you that I share the UK’s longstanding commitment to improving the reach and equity of routine childhood vaccinations and that the UK will continue to champion the invaluable contribution of vaccines in saving lives and protecting global health.