UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday announced that funding for its Vaccine Independence Initiative (VII), a mechanism to help countries secure a sustainable supply of life-saving vaccines, has more than doubled in the past year.
The increase was made possible especially by a financial guarantee of 15 million U.S. dollars from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, adding to a capital base that also includes recent contributions from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the United States Fund for UNICEF.
The VII funding has increased from 15 million dollars to 35 million dollars in the past year, UNICEF noted.
Over 60 low-income countries currently benefit from Gavi support to purchase life-saving vaccines. As countries' economies grow and transition away from Gavi support, the VII gives them access to short-term bridge "loans" so that they can purchase vaccines while waiting for the release of national budget funds.
In addition, it provides countries assistance to strengthen the planning and budgeting processes to manage their essential supplies procurement moving forward.
The VII is one tool to help countries minimize vaccine stock-outs and ensure more children receive vaccines on time. Since 2016, it has helped provide an estimated 91 million doses to children in 23 countries faster than would have otherwise been possible.