According to a study published in Lancet, official statistics from developing nations have overstated childhood immunization rates in recent years and the discrepancy may have triggered unwarranted payouts from a charitable organization.
Christopher Murray and colleagues compared government estimates for DPT (diphtheria, pertussus and tetanus) vaccine coverage with results obtained from door-to-door surveys in 193 countries over a 20 year period.
The more reliable survey data showed that DPT coverage increased 5% between 1999 and 2006 across 51 developing nations. Government accounts set the number at 9%.
The disparity occurs in the context of the new “pay for performance” strategy pioneered by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through its $750 million grant to GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations.
GAVI offers a cash reward of $20 per additional child immunized each year over the number immunized in a baseline year as documented by—you guessed it—government estimates.
Since 1999, 51 countries have received payments from GAVI under the Gates program. If study findings are confirmed, GAVI disbursed nearly twice as many reward dollars as it should have: $290 million vs. $150 million.
GAVI has suspended its reward program pending further investigation.
“By early next year, we will modify, drastically change, or possibly put in place a new system of incentive performance,” GAVI’s executive director Julian Lob-Levyt told the Post.