GAVI is not the first major immunization partnership. Prior to its formation, many of the same entities, including WHO, UNICEF, and the World Bank, participated in the Childrens Vaccine Initiative (CVI). The Initiative struggled with inadequate funding and disagreements among its partner organizations. In 1999, WHO decided to disband the Initiative. Even as the partners disbanded, however, there were already plans to form a new alliance.
The new GAVI partnership formed very quickly, aided by two important forces (Muraskin 2005). The first was access to new funding from the Gates Foundation. Through the Childrens Vaccine Program at PATH, the Gates Foundation provided $750 million in new funding to immunization efforts including GAVI. By providing such a high level of resources to GAVI, the Gates Foundation substantially increased the resources available for immunization work and reduced the perception that GAVI was competing with existing organizations for funding. The second factor aiding the new partnership was the strong commitment of immunization program staff at the partner organizations. A group of staff members who had participated in the CVI formed the GAVI Working Group. This group of mid-level technical staff played a crucial role in the early stages of the Alliance.
GAVI was not formed to implement any programs. Rather, the partners believed that joining forces would add value to the efforts of the individual partners through coordination and consensus building, funding support, innovative programming, and enhanced communication and advocacy. The initial, relatively loose structure of the alliance and its small professional staff were deliberate strategies intended to ensure that GAVI did not become an implementing entity on its own, but would rely on its partner organizations to undertake all activities except for internal management (Abt Associates 2008).