Thank you Australia and thank you Australians

I have just returned to the GAVI Alliance Secretariat in Geneva after a highly-productive trip to Australia and want to thank all our friends and colleagues Down Under for your support and leadership in global health.

Today’s publication of the Australian Multilateral Assessment highlights GAVI as one of the top performers in a crowded and competitive field of recipients of Australia’s generous aid budget.

According to this rigorous assessment of all the multilateral organisations Australia funds, GAVI has established a strong track record in delivering against its mandate to save children’s lives and protect people’s health by increasing access to immunisation in the world’s poorest countries.

This endorsement of our efforts to ensure that all children, wherever they are born, have access to the best vaccines available is very welcome and humbling too not only for all of us who work at the GAVI Secretariat but also the many partners that make up our unique and innovative public-private alliance.

As well as developing country and donor governments like Australia, GAVI brings together the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries, research and technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private philanthropists.

Australia’s bipartisan commitment to growing the aid budget to reach 0.5% of GDP by 2015 is a fabulous example of international leadership and my meetings with Foreign Minister Bob Carr, Shadow Minister Julie Bishop, DG Peter Baxter and many others on both sides of Parliament House have cemented my faith in Australia’s moral leadership too.

Australia punches well above its weight in scientific discovery and policy approaches to public health. I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to share a podium at Melbourne University with Tim Costello, Sir Gus Nossal and Kate Taylor and am happy to see that the event has been captured here for others to enjoy.

While journalists in some countries seem to have little understanding of development issues, I was impressed by the Australian media’s interest in my visit.

I had only been in the country for an hour before someone thrust a copy of The Age into my hand pointing out a great op-ed from Sydney University’s Dr Joel Negin outlining our work.

I was later delighted to be invited onto Channel Ten’s youth current affairs program, The Project, to discuss why Australia’s contribution to vaccines was so important.

This was followed by interviews on ABC TV (below) and radio:

The staff and leadership of AusAID are great GAVI partners and I really hope my visit in March has cemented our partnership.

Thank you Australia and thank you Australians.

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