After five years of operation, the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), the only international organization headquartered in South Korea, plans to expand its vaccine research projects beyond Asia, and start a new laboratory program for the development of new vaccines.
The IVI is devoted to accelerating the development, evaluation and introduction of vaccines of great public health importance into the world´s poorest countries. In the year 2000, the IVI launched the Diseases of the Most Impoverished (DOMI) program, a $40 million project sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The DOMI Program is a five-year program aiming at the accelerated introduction of vaccines against cholera, shigellosis and typhoid fever, which altogether cause 1.8 million deaths per year.
" The DOMI Program include the generation and dissemination of key data on disease burden, vaccine efficacy and public health impact of introducing vaccines against these three diseases" said its Director, John D. Clemens, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of IVI´s foundation. "This information is critical for public health officials in developing countries when making decisions about the most cost-effective interventions to save the greater number of lives"
The IVI has so far been focusing on preventing respiratory, enteric and viral (dengue and Japanese encephalitis) diseases. "During the next five years, the IVI will expand its vaccine research portfolio into one or more of three "big killers": HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria," Clemens said, based on the institute´s Strategic Plan for 2003- 2007.
The IVI is the world´s only international research organization devoted to bringing new vaccines to the poor populations of the developing world. To date, 34 countries and the WHO have signed the Institute´s Establishment Agreement. South Korea became the host country for the IVI, after competing with other countries in the Asia Pacific region.
"The Korean government has been very generous to the IVI and its international humanitarian efforts, " said Dr. Clemens formerly head of the Epidemiology Branch at the U.S. National Institute of Health. The Government is not only providing up to 30 percent of IVI´s operating budget but is also funding the new IVI´s Headquarters building on the campus of Seoul National University." The new IVI Headquarters building is expected to be completed early next year.
Apart from the government of South Korea, other governments such as Australia, Japan and Sweden, and foundations like the Rockefeller and the Bill and Melinda Gates support the work of the IVI.
"Our goal for the next five years"-added Dr. Clemens "is to ensure success in preventing disease through vaccination even in the most remote communities in the poorest countries of the world. To be successful, however, we need the sustained conviction and support from governments, international organizations and the society as a whole"