Alan Brooks left behind work in Geneva, Switzerland, to come back to Tacoma for the holidays. But his passion for saving lives followed him home.
Brooks, director for health systems and immunization strengthening for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), graduated from Stadium High School in 1988. He spent time as a Rotary exchange student in Sweden before attending Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Washington for nursing.
After earning his degree at UW in 1994, Brooks wanted to help improve basic health care services around the world. Eventually, that landed him with GAVI.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $750 million in January 2000, providing the seed money to launch GAVI. The alliance brings together UN agencies, governments, the vaccine industry, the private sector and many other organizations to improve childhood immunization in poor countries. It also accelerates access to vaccines that Brooks says wealthy countries take for granted.
“I had the good fortune to be able to be part of its early evolution and development,” he told The News Tribune this week.
GAVI estimates that these vaccinations efforts have prevented six million deaths thus far. Brooks said the organization hopes to reach an additional 300 million children between 2016 and 2020. That would amount to about five to six million more lives saved, he said.
Brooks estimates that the global economic benefit from the work GAVI does amounts between $80 billion and $100 billion.
“Until you have healthy people, it’s hard for societies to evolve,” he said. “These pieces are all interconnected.”
To achieve that goal, GAVI is looking to raise $7.5 billion for that four-year period. Brooks said the organization has already raised half that amount. He anticipates the other half will be raised at a conference in Germany at the end of January.
Brooks took a break from holiday family time to talk to The News Tribune about his organization’s work abroad.