Africa Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Africa Water, Sanitation Jan -Feb 2014 Vol.10 No1 - Page 38

Health Yes we can: $7.5B Gavi goal reached in Berlin By Musa Okwonga winning is to sprint to the front of the pack early and stay there, they structured the program so that most of the truly rousing moments came before lunch. Handwashing article receives the Elsevier Atlas award Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates at the Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance pledging conference in Berlin, Germany. Gates pledged $1.55 billion during the event. Photo by: Gavi They did it. At the end of an afternoon of anxious anticipation in Berlin, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance CEO Seth Berkley announced that his organization had reached its fundraising target of $7.5 billion. To his elation — and, perhaps somewhere in there, to his relief — he revealed that they had exceeded this goal by $39 million, news that brought the room to its feet. The news conference afterward also had an unmistakably triumphant air, and understandably so, for this success was by no means a sure thing. In 2011, the last time Gavi had sought pledges on this scale, they were looking for just under half this amount. Then, it had asked for $3.85 billion, but four years later, with the world’s economy further withered by the effects of the financial crash, it was making a request that even Berkley referred to as “ambitious.” Elsevier, a world-leading publisher and provider of information solutions for science, health, and technology professionals selected the Effect of a behaviour-change intervention on handwashing with soap in India (SuperAmma): a cluster-randomised trial, The Lancet Global Health, March 2014 article to receive the Elsevier Atlas award. Each month a single Atlas article is selected from published research from across Elsevier’s 1,800 journals by an external advisory board made up of individuals from NGOs including the following organizations, among several others: • Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) • Health Informational for all – HIFA 2015 • International Training and Outreach Center in Africa (ITOCA) • TEDMED • United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) • University of California, Berkeley (Centre for Effective Global Action) • Global Health Policy Institute • United Nations University • OXFAM • Bioversity International If Gavi had ever doubted the scale or importance of its task, then there would have been no shortage of people to remind them. As many of the delegates arrived at the Berlin Conference Center, striding briskly through the morning drizzle, they were greeted by a cluster of protesters bearing an array of banners, urging them to pledge generously. “World leaders, save 6 million lives today!” they read, or variations of the same. Atlas articles showcase research that can (or already has) significantly impact people’s lives around the world and we hope that bringing wider attention to this research will go some way to ensuring its successful implementation. These were dramatic words, but no less grand than the aims of the day’s proceedings: to secure funds, as Bill Gates would tell his audience, that could help halve child mortality within the next 15 years. And so inside the conference center, past security checks that you’d more readily associate with an airport terminal, the representatives of dozens of countries prepared their promises. Many mothers and newborns are dying because of a lack of sanitation, safe water and hygiene while giving birth, leading health experts have warned. In hindsight, Gavi ran the day just right. A little like a marathon runner who knows that his best chance of 38 Africa Water, Sanitation & Hygiene • January - February 2015 Poor water and hygiene ‘kills mothers and newborns’ They say the lack of such basic facilities is hindering the success of other interventions to improve the health of newborn babies.In some clinics in Tanzania pregnant women are asked to bring their own water supplies.They’ve called on governments and agencies to focus more on B