21 November 2011, Dhaka. The GAVI Alliance (formerly the “Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation”) is Geneva-based public-private partnership which strives to improve health in the world’s poorest countries. The Alliance connects developing countries with government donor organisations, the World Health organisation, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries, research and technical agencies, civil society, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other private philanthropists.
GAVI provides life-saving vaccines and works to strengthen health systems. In its first decade of work, GAVI has financed the immunisation of 325.6 million children and prevented more than 5.5 million premature deaths.
On November 11th 2011, BRAC played co-host to The GAVI Alliance Board Meeting and associated events. The week began with the GAVI-Civil Society Organisation Steering Committee meeting, a series of activities and field visits, in addition to the observance of World Pneumonia Day. The week then ended with a culminating GAVI Board meeting from the 15th to the 17th.
Members from participating countries led the Steering Committee Meeting. Among others, Rosemary Anderson Akola (Oxfam Ghana), Awunyo-Akaba (Future Generations International, Ghana), Sabrina Bakeera Kitaka (Uganda Pediatric Association), Daniel Berman (Médecins sans Frontier, Switzerland), Marwin Meier (World Vision Germany), Naveen Thacker (Indian Academy of Pediatrics) and Simon Wright (Save the Children) were present. Dr. Akramul Islam, Programme Head, BHP, and Dr. Sharmin Akhter Zahan, Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, acted as BRAC participants.
On November 12th, as an observance of Pneumonia Day, participants travelled to various field sites to raise awareness and to network with GAVI-CSO and country CSOs like BRAC. Three Parliamentary Members from the UK, Mr. Ivan Lewis MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development; Lord Mohamed Iltaf Sheikh of Cornhill, Vice-Chair of All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Bangladesh and Mr. Jim Dobbin MP, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Global Action against Childhood Pneumonia has joined the visit. Along with the CSO-SC and British MPs, representatives from MOHFW of Bangladesh Govt. and EPI and DG Health were present. The participants were divided into three groups in three sites that included visits to the local Upazila Health Complex to observe the cold chain system for vaccination, immunisation in government community clinic and CSO activities for health education and community mobilisation for immunisation in BRAC’s field operation. A video message by BRAC’s founder and chairperson, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, stressing the importance of preventative measures for pneumonia in Bangladesh was shown while concluding the session in Ruposhi Bangla Hotel on the 13th of November.
Field visits for the board members were organised on November 14th in different locations, including Upazilla Health Complexes, community clinics, where immunisation sessions occurred, as well as neighbourhoods, to view the activities of community mobilisation for immunisation by BRAC Health Volunteers.
Over the next two days, the GAVI Alliance Board Meeting began in the Ruposhi Bangla Hotel, Dhaka. The meeting started with a welcome speech by Mr. Dagfinn Høybråten, Chair, GAVI Board and former Health Minister of Norway. The CEO Report was presented by Dr Seth Berkley, who mentioned and reported, “I would particularly like to highlight and thank Faruque Ahmed as a former Board Member and Director of the BRAC Health Programme, which represents one of the best examples of the power of civil society in Development in Bangladesh and the world”.
GAVIs Immunisation short film transmitted an interview conducted by Saleha Akhter, a member of BRAC’s Adolescent Development Programme with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheik Hasina as well as those involved in Bangladesh's remarkable success over the last decade to reach children with vaccines including a health worker, a mother, BRAC's Faruque Ahmed, and the Minister of Health. The next session followed with Prof. AFM Ruhal Haque’s Country Report on Bangladesh, where Prof. Haque again mentioned the CSOs role.
The concluding session was remarkable as the CEO and Chair Mr. Høybråten renewed his thanks for the work of the Bangladesh Government and the partners like UNICEF, WHO and particularly BRAC, in the efforts of immunisation and vaccination.