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$4.3 Billion Vaccine Pledge to Save Children's Lives

Jeffrey Hamilton/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Their mission is simple: get kids in poor countries the vaccines that are available for kids in rich countries. On Monday, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) announced a major milestone in global health by exceeding their goal of securing $3.7 billion in commitments from world leaders.

A historic achievement, the funds in this pledge campaign will go towards immunizing more than 250 million of the world's poorest children against life-threatening diseases by 2015 and preventing more than four million premature deaths.

Major public and private donors committed $4.3 billion, enabling GAVI to reach more children faster than planned and to accelerate the introduction of new vaccines. A portion of the pledges are conditional upon GAVI raising additional funds from new donors in the future. Monday's pledges bring GAVI's total available resources for 2011 to 2015 to $ 7.6 billion.

Hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, the meeting convened prime ministers, ministers and high-level officials from donor and developing countries, leaders of U.N. agencies, CEOs from private companies and senior civil society leaders to make commitments to support GAVI's life-saving work.

By successfully meeting their goal, GAVI will have the ability to continue funding their immunization programs in developing countries and also to address two new important vaccines that will be made available for countries in need: one against pneumonia the other immunizing against severe diarrhea. Pneumonia and diarrhea account for roughly 40 percent of child deaths under the age of five across the planet and particular in developing, poor countries.

One of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) is to reduce child mortality by two-thirds by the year 2015. When it comes to addressing child mortality, immunization plays a pivotal role. Nearly two million children die and in the case of pneumonia and diarrhea, one child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable disease. Since 2001, GAVI has been on the frontlines by enabling 288 million children to be vaccinated and in doing so, averting five million deaths.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio