UK Chancellor Gordon Brown and his European affiliates have unveiled a plan to save the lives of up to 10 million children in the developing world through a new immunisation initiative.
Using upfront, long-term financial commitments from donors, the International Finance Facility for Immunisation aims to raise over $4.0 billion in the next 10 years to fund the fight against diseases such as diptheria, tetanus and whooping cough, which collectively kill millions of people each year.
According to the BBC, billionaire businessman Bill Gates has pledged a further $750 million over 10 years through his Gates foundation, with yearly contributions of $130 million from the UK, $100 million from France, $30 million from Italy, $12 million from Spain and $27 million from Sweden.
Speaking at the launch of IFFI, Mr Brown claimed that “the power of medical advance with a wholly new innovative mechanism to frontload long-term finance, Iffim ... will enable 10 million lives to be saved and spare millions of families the agony of a loved one needlessly dying.”
International Development Secretary Hilary Benn also welcomed the initiative, saying that it will “help poor children in the developing world get the vaccines that children in the developed world take for granted.”
However, the plan has also been met with some criticism; Peter Hardstaff, from the World Development Movement, was quoted by the BBC as stating “our concern is that because the IFFI is a way of borrowing money from international financial markets, in years to come we're going to end up using aid money to pay off the interest to financiers rather than helping the poor.”