Speech by State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Yutaka BANNO at "Saving children's lives- the GAVI Alliance pledging conference for immunization"

13 June, 2011


The British Secretary of State for International Development and Chair of the pledging conference the Rt. Hon. Mitchell MP.,

Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour to attend "the GAVI Alliance pledging conference for immunization" with you today.

At the outset, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for the condolences and offers of assistance from all around the world in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred on the 11th of March. This unprecedented earthquake has once again brought home to me the importance of protecting every precious human life. I believe outpouring of assistance and encouragement we have received from countries around the world could partly be accounted for by the trust that our country has gained through the accumulation of international cooperation over the years. In order to return the warm solidarity and support extended from all over the world, we will continue to play an active role for the peace and stability of the international community and to work steadily on international contribution including ODA for ensuring human security, while making a comeback through cooperation with the international community.

Japan places its importance on efforts in the field of health as one of the global challenges that directly relate to human security. At the UN MDGs Summit in September last year, Japan announced its new global health policy which includes its commitment to provide assistance of five billion US dollars in the field of health over five years starting from 2011. Under this policy, Japan proposed an effective MNCH assistance model called "EMBRACE (Ensure Mothers and Babies Regular Access to Care)" which aims to ensure a continuum of care from the pre-natal and post-natal stages through strengthening health systems. Japan also hosted the MDGs Follow-Up Meeting on the 2-3 June which was attended by a variety of stakeholders including international organizations such as GAVI, NGOs, and private-sector and academic institutions and discussed timely, effective interventions that will work effectively towards achieving the MDGs by the target date of 2015.

Substantial progress has been made in reducing child deaths, with the total number of under-five deaths declining from 12.5 million in 1990 to 8.8 million in 2008. Despite this achievement, many children continue to die within the first month of their birth due to preventable or treatable causes, many countries still have unacceptably high levels of child mortality.

The GAVI Alliance has achieved remarkable results such as saving lives of more than 5 million children's lives through improved access to immunisation and has been playing an outstanding role in reducing child mortality (MDG 4) in particular. On behalf of the Government of Japan, I reiterate our sincere tribute to the work of GAVI Alliance.

I hereby announce that the Government of Japan will make contribution of 9.3 million US dollars to the GAVI Alliance in 2011. Based on the commitment made at the UN MDGs Summit held in September last year, Japan is also ready to make due contributions accordingly from the year 2012 onwards.

Under the global health policy, Japan will work in partnership and cooperation with other development partners and contribute to help saving maternal and children's lives as well as the lives that would otherwise be lost to the three major infectious diseases through providing effective and efficient assistance. In particular, Japan attaches great importance to collaboration between GAVI work and JICA projects on the ground.

Japan expects that countries that have achieved remarkable economic development and are now actively working on development challenges as well as emerging economies that have been benefitted from the GAVI's work will be actively engaged in the GAVI Alliance as donors.

Today, the importance of the GAVI Alliance is widely recognized. Nonetheless, the funds of the GAVI Alliance need to be utilized even more effectively and efficiently than before. The GAVI Alliance also needs, in the longer term, to contribute to stabilize health service systems. In this regard, the Government of Japan has a great interest in the ongoing investigations of possible misuse of funds and urges the GAVI Secretariat to continue its current investigations strictly, keep the Board and donors informed of their outcomes, and use the lessons learnt for more effective and efficient use of its funds.

Allow me to conclude my speech by ardently wishing that enhanced GAVI's work, based on strengthened partnerships amongst donors, partner countries, the civil societies and the private sector, will help save more lives that would otherwise be lost to preventable diseases.

Thank you for your attention.

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