SEOUL--The International Vaccine Institute (IVI), the world’s only international organization devoted exclusively to the research and development of new vaccines for developing countries, commemorated its 10th anniversary on October 17.
The IVI, which is also the first international organization headquartered in Korea, hosted a ceremony and a gala marking the historic occasion at the IVI headquarters in Seoul. The ceremony drew more than 150 participants, including Prime Minister Han Duck-soo and other senior government officials from Korea, foreign diplomats in Seoul, special dignitaries from Kuwait and Spain, as well as members of the IVI Board of Trustees, including its Chairman Dr. Ragnar Norrby.
In his congratulatory video message for the ceremony, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, called the IVI “a pioneering centre for research.” “For 10 years, the IVI promoted dynamic interaction among scientists and developers from Asia and elsewhere.” Mr. Ban said. “The IVI played a unique role in vaccine research, development, training, technical assistance, and information-sharing,” noting its complementary roles with the World Health Organization.
The Korean First Lady Madame Kwon Yang-suk, who serves as the Honorary President of the Korea Support Committee for IVI, said in her video message that “Protecting our children from diseases is protecting humanity’s future. Diseases have no national borders, and our efforts to combat these diseases must also be free of boundaries.” She called for “greater medical cooperation between IVI and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”
Prime Minister Han said, “The Korean government will extend all possible support to ensure that the IVI, the first international organization hosted by Korea, seamlessly carries out its mission as a center of global vaccine research,” urging the Institute to double efforts to narrow the gap in vaccine between developed and developing countries on the basis of its past achievements.
At the ceremony three people were honored with plaques for their contribution to the IVI’s establishment. These honorees were: Prof. Cho Wan-kyoo, former chairman of the Organizing Committee for the IVI, Prof. Yoo Chong-ha, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Suh Bum Suk, former Vice Minister of Education. Five others were also awarded with plaques for their donations to the Institute, including Contron Corp., Green Cross Corporation, Nonghyup (NACF) Bank, STC Group and the Korea Exchange Bank Foundation.
IVI Director-General Dr. John Clemens said, “The IVI has emerged as one of the world’s leading centers of vaccine research,” citing a string of accomplishments. Dr. Clemens noted the IVI has developed an improved oral cholera vaccine, and is currently transferring its production technology to developing countries, such as India.
The IVI, with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, has also jointly developed a new typhoid vaccine that is safe and effective in infants. “Transfer of technology to a producer that is committed to producing vaccines for the poor at affordable prices
, will commence soon,” Dr. Clemens said. Recently, the IVI has also launched a project for North Korean children to introduce vaccines against bacterial meningitis and Japanese encephalitis.
“In the future, the IVI will expand its field research to additional countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America,” Dr. Clemens said. “At its new high-level bio-containment laboratories, the Institute will also step up research on vaccines against dangerous pathogens, including avian influenza and tuberculosis.”
The international community has been highly successful in improving health in developing countries through expanded immunization. However, infectious diseases still kill some 16,000 children under the age of five every day, primarily in developing countries. Furthermore, the threat of emerging diseases, such as avian influenza, demonstrates the continued importance of infectious disease research.
The IVI was initiated in the early 1990s by the United Nations. Leaders of 77 countries adopted a declaration calling for concerted efforts to promote children´s health during the World Summit on Children in 1990. In 1993, the United Nations Development Program began the process to establish the IVI, and Korea became the host following a competition with six Asian nations in 1994. The IVI officially commenced operations as an autonomous and independent organization in October 1997.
Currently, 40 countries and the World Health Organization are signatories to the IVI’s Establishment Agreement. In addition to developing new vaccines at its headquarters, the Institute is also conducting over 100 field vaccine research projects in 22 countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. These projects are helping to introduce vaccines against deadly diseases such as diarrhea, pneumonia, meningitis, and dengue fever into programs for the poor. These diseases cause up to 3.5 million child deaths each year.
Prof. Ragnar Norrby (left), Chairman of the Board of Trustees of International Vaccine Institute, awards Prof. Yoo Chong-ha, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Korea, with a plaque for his contribution to the establishment of the IVI on the occasion of 10th anniversary of the Institute at its headquarters in Seoul on October 17.
Prime Minister Han Duck-soo of Korea delivers a congratulatory message at the 10th anniversary ceremony of the International Vaccine Institute at the IVI headquarters in Seoul on October 17.
The IVI is supported by many donors from both the private and public sectors. Major donors include the governments of Korea, Sweden, and Kuwait, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other international philanthropists; as well as a growing number of private companies and citizens in Korea.
Dr. John Clemens (left), Director-General of the IVI, presents a plaque of appreciation for financial support to Mr. Kim Moon-young, Chairman of Contron Corp., at the 10th anniversary ceremony of the IVI.
In addition to the events commemorating the 10th anniversary on October 17, the IVI will host a benefit golf tournament at Sky 72 Golf Club in Yeongjong-do, Incheon on October 26. The event will bring together some 160 people, including business leaders, diplomats, entertainers and pro golfers, with the goal of bringing vaccines to the world’s poorest children.
Congratulatory Video Message
U.N. Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon
Director-General of IVI, Dr. John D. Clemens
Chairman of the Board of Trustees of IVI, Prof. Ragnar Norrby
Chairwoman of the Ideal Mother Committee, Sheikha Fariha Al-Sabah,
Global Goodwill Ambassador, Alyaa Moussa,
Professor Ho-wang Lee,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to send you greetings on this anniversary. “The International Vaccine Institute is a pioneering centre for research. For 10 years, you have promoted dynamic interaction among scientists and developers from Asia and elsewhere.” You have played a unique role in vaccine research, development, training, technical assistance, and information-sharing. You have complemented the work of the World Health Organization, and helped it set policies and define priorities.
From your work in evaluating vaccination strategies for typhoid fever, to the training you provide in vaccine introduction, assessment and policy, your collaboration with WHO has been strong and productive. As you enter your second decade, I am confident that your partnership will continue to grow.
I thank the many supporters of the Institute – Governments, foundations, international organizations, private sector institutions and individuals. And I thank the Government of the Republic of Korea for its generosity in hosting the facility.
Please accept my warmest congratulations on this 10th anniversary. May you continue to thrive for many more decades to come!