PHNOM PENH, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (GAVI) Board meeting was held here on Thursday to decide which new vaccines will be added to the organization's portfolio.
The two-day meeting brought together 160 people who are representatives of donors and developing countries, civil society organizations, vaccine manufacturers, and other experts. Princess Infanta Cristina of Spain is among the other participants.
The meeting was the first major GAVI Alliance event held in South Asia, said a press release, adding that since 2007, Asian countries including Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam have introduced the five-in-one pentavalent and measles vaccines with GAVI support, protecting more than 25 million children against potentially fatal illnesses.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen stressed the importance of the meeting and expressed gratitude to the GAVI Alliance for financially and spiritually supporting Cambodia in its efforts to vaccinate children against diseases.
"The meeting is a driving force to expedite the process of the inclusion of new vaccines in the organization's portfolio and to expand vaccinations to children," he said.
With GAVI support, Cambodia has introduced the five-in-one pentavalent vaccine, which protects against diphtheria, tetanus pertussis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type B, as well as measles vaccine.
The premier said Cambodia had completely eliminated polio since 1997 and measles since 2011.
Meanwhile, he urged the GAVI Alliance to add Pneumococcal Vaccine for Cambodia by 2015 and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine, Rotavirus vaccine, and Japanese Encephalitis (JE) vaccine in the future.
GAVI Board Chair Dagfinn Hoybraten hailed Cambodia for its strong commitment to improving well-being for children, estimating that diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) vaccine coverage in Cambodia has reached 95 percent.
"This is an extraordinary achievement and demonstrates the commitment of our Cambodian partners," he said.
Cambodian Health Minister Mam Bunheng said GAVI has partnered with Cambodia's immunization program since 2001. To date, GAVI has provided Cambodia 39 million U.S. dollars worth of vaccines.
"During the period of GAVI support, the five-in-one pentavalent vaccine coverage has increased from 70 percent in 2001 to 95 percent in 2013," he said.
The GAVI Alliance is a public-private partnership committed to saving children's lives and protecting people's health by increasing access to immunization in developing countries. Since 2000, GAVI has contributed to the immunization of an additional 440 million children and the prevention of approximately 6 million future deaths.