The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has partnered with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), and UNICEF to invest a Ksh. 16.8 billion (USD 150 million) financial guarantee.

The funds are aimed at helping UNICEF procure vaccines and other health related supplies for low and middle income countries. The financing will run through to 2025, and will help sustain national immunization programs including COVID-19 vaccination campaigns and timely procurement of essential health supplies.

In the wake of COVID-19, this new financing will help improve the sustainable and reliable availability of essential and lifesaving health supplies like diagnostics, syringes and oxygen concentrators.

“The world cannot have a system in which supplies that are critical to improving the health of all people are auctioned to the highest bidder, forcing poorer countries to go without. Access to diagnostics, treatments, vaccines and other essential health supplies is critical to ensuring that countries can protect their people against COVID-19 and other health threats,” said Chris Elias, President of the Global Development Division at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Since 2017, UNICEF has accelerated the procurement and delivery of Ksh. 100 billion (USD 900 million) worth of supplies, including 840 million doses of vaccines to more than 100 countries. UNICEF has also secured ultra-cold chain storage, syringes, diagnostics, oxygen concentrators, and other critical commodities, typically accelerating delivery by up to five months.

“COVID-19 has shown us that inequality of access to health services and vital health supplies like vaccines is not only bad for those left behind, but bad for everybody. Financial guarantees and domestic resources committed now will help drive more equitable access to critical COVID-19 tools to control the pandemic, while also ensuring all children have access to vaccines and other lifesaving supplies when they need them,” said Etleva Kadilli, Director of UNICEF’s Supply Division.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s financing is made available through its Ksh. 280 billion ($2.5 billion) Strategic Investment Fund (SIF). The fund uses a suite of financial tools to address market failures. Since last year, SIF has leveraged more than Ksh. 89 billion ($800 million) in volume guarantees, loans, and other at-risk financing to enable the rapid procurement of essential medical supplies for low and middle income countries.