Dar es Salaam — The 5th Partners' Forum formally closed after three days of discussion about Results, Innovation, Sustainability and Equity
Holding up a national newspaper headlined 'Big boost for children's health', GAVI Board Chair Dagfinn Hoybraten formally closed the 5th Partners' Forum on Friday after three days of debate and discussion - not to mention the historic introduction of two life-saving vaccines.
"Some of us will report back to ministers, some to CEO's, I'll report back to my six-year-old granddaughter," said Mr Hoybraten, "I can look her in the eyes and tell her that there are lots of people working harder than ever so her generation of children can live."
"It has been a privilege to host you in Dar es Salaam," said Tanzania's Health and Social Minister Hussein Mwinyi, as he bid farewell to the Forum's 650 participants, who included ministers, academics, activists and scientists from over 50 countries.
"It has been a great learning opportunity and an historic landmark for Tanzania. Yesterday, the First Lady Salma Kikwete graced the launch of the rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines, a milestone in the reduction of child death," he said.
The life-saving vaccines, introduced with support from GAVI, mean the newest generation of Tanzania's children need never fear two of the biggest killers of under-five children in their country: pneumococcal disease and rotavirus diarrhoea.
GAVI CEO Dr Seth Berkley, who was attending his fourth Partners' Forum but his first as CEO, described the event as "the best ever" and listed some of the feedback that the organisation had received on the four themes of the Forum: Results, Innovation, Sustainability and Equity (RISE). "The energy has been extraordinary," he said.
Thanking the varied members of the GAVI family who attended the event, Dr Berkley mentioned donors, Africa's First Ladies, national and regional parliamentarians, civil society organisations, the pharmaceutical industry, GAVI Advocate Bill Roedy, African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka who had stolen the show at the opening ceremony, Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA and former GAVI Chair Graça Machel "for inspiring us all."
All the feathers of the eagle
Speaking on behalf of 18 members of parliament, representing 14 parliaments and two regional governments who had attended the Forum, the Honourable Lord Boateng from the United Kingdom paid tribute to GAVI.
"According to an African saying, it is each and every feather that makes the eagle soar," he said, "that is how we came to feel about this family of different colours, shapes, weights and sizes. It is all the parts of the partnership that make GAVI such a successful saver of so many children."
In her closing speech to the Forum, the GAVI Alliance Vice-Chair and Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, Geeta Rao Gupta, emphasised the importance of the first letter in Rise.
"R is for Results and that is what is driving us all," she said. "We will get there because of the partnership working together."
Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director General of the World Health Organization and a member of the GAVI Board highlighted the need to establish equity in access to vaccines - a key theme at the Forum. "We can use vaccines as the edge of a movement that will improve the health of every woman and child," she said.
"We have heard the message loud and clear," she added. "It is important to go that last mile to reach the last child in remote communities, to have the ability to identify where that child lives, when they are born, to register them. Globalised equity means every child every woman everywhere."