Armenia Immunization Project Receives Crucial Funding

NEW YORK–The Armenia Immunization 2000 initiative is pleased to announce that it has received close to $200,000 in contributions and pledges toward the Millennium Armenian Children’s Vaccine Fund (MACVF)–a capital fund that will provide long-term–sustainable vaccines to children in Armenia within the context of the National Immunization Program and in accordance with western standards. This amount marks the halfway point of a challenge grant of $400,000 pledged by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in support of the MACVF–conditional upon raising $400,000 from the Armenian Diaspora at large. That–along with the Ani & Narod Memorial Foundation’s (ANMF) own pledge of $ 400,000 and a remaining $200,000 expected to be raised in year two of the capital campaign will meet the MACVF’s funding goal of $1.4 million. When fully funded–the estimated lump sum investment will enable Armenia to purchase vaccines on a self-sustainable basis for the next 15 years and beyond without recourse to international aid.

The MACVF has gained wide spread support in the community from private foundations–high net worth individuals–and grass root constituents. The fund really began to gain its momentum with a strategic grant of $70,000 made at the leadership level by The Cafesjian Family Foundation.

"We really appreciated the strong alliances that form the underpinnings of this program–especially the partnerships with USAID and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunizations (GAVI)," said John Waters–Vice President of The Cafesjian Family Foundation. "ANMF’s own financial commitment to this important public health initiative is also a big plus and another form of partnership." In addition to the MACVF grant–the Cafesjian Family Foundation is contributing $10,000 for direct vaccine purchases in the near term. "We are eager to see the immediate social dividends and the impact of the program in Armenia," said Waters. Other principal donors and pledges include Dr. Noubar Afeyan–The Howard Karagheusian Commemorative Corporation–Dr. Sarkis Kechejian–the Ara Arslanian Family–Mr. & Mrs. Nazareth Festekjian–and a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

"I cannot think of a better way to secure the future of Armenia’s next generations," said Dr. Afeyan. "My business is all about evaluating risks–including technological and financial risks–to make prudent investmen’s to help businesses grow. Immunization–however–is a no-risk win-win proposition. The technology is proven and Armenia has a well-trained public health team to deliver the critical vaccines to help our children grow strong and lead longer–healthier lives. The MACVF is a sound investment in Armenia’s future."

"In a small country like Armenia–with an existing medical infrastructure and immunization program–this is a worthwhile project that is much needed today," said Dr. Kechejian. Recently the Armenian community in Dallas/Fort Worth–home of Dr. Kechejian held a special fundraising event for the MACVF at the Kechejian Cultural Hall. The MACVF program office plans on holding similar events in Phoenix–Los Angeles–San Diego–New York and Boston in the coming months as the program continues to gain grass root support in Armenian communities across the US.

"We are very pleased to witness the early vote of confidence by these leadership contributions. Not only does it reaffirm our important commitment to the children of Armenia–but also it gets us closer to meeting the terms of the important USAID matching grant," said Raffy Ardhaldjian–Chief Volunteer Officer of the program. "We need to rally all the support we can from the Diaspora to raise the remaining $200,000 and help provide this long-term public health solution for Armenia’s kids."

According to Ardhaldjian–the MACVF model has already generated enthusiasm from the community to replicate it for the children of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh. Ardhaldjian recently met with Zoya Lazarian–Minister of Health of NK to discuss future plans. In support of the NK model–ANMF has pledged $20,000 and the Cafesjian Family Foundation has pledged another grant of $20,000. ANMF hopes to raise the final $10,000 needed to fully fund the NK initiative.

The MACVF has also recently attracted an impressive volunteer investment committee comprised of seasoned Wall Street executives. Greg Ekizian from Goldman Sachs–Nazareth Festekjian from Salomon Smith Barney and Robert Setrakian from the Helios Group have agreed to serve on the investment committee of the MACVF. "We need to do good in order to do well. We are honored to have such talent to help us guide our investmen’s," said Ardhaldjian.

For more information about the MACVF or to find out how you can support this initiative–e-mail at Dania@ani.org–call the program office at 212-935-5242 or visit www.ani.org. MACVF is a private-public health partnership administered by the Ani & Narod Memorial Foundation (ANMF) a private nonprofit operating foundation headquartered in New York.

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