14/03/2013 11:55 GMT | Updated 13/05/2013 06:12 BST

Comic Relief and GAVI: A Fun Partnership That Is Saving Lives

There's something so genuine and heartwarming in sharing a laugh with a little boy or girl. People of all ages love to share their happiness. Laugh, and the whole world laughs with you.

That is the power of Comic Relief and its inspiring Red Nose Day fundraising campaign. People throughout the UK will be making fun of themselves on Friday - me, too - to support extraordinary causes.

One of those causes is child immunisation, which Comic Relief supports through the GAVI Alliance. GAVI is a highly effective international non-profit that is helping save children's lives in the poorest countries by increasing access to vaccines that protect against killer diseases. In collaboration with partners such as Comic Relief, GAVI has helped immunise 370 million children in more than 70 countries since 2000, saving more than 5.5 million lives.

In health clinics and villages throughout Africa, I have seen the impact of these efforts. For just a few pounds per dose, vaccines not only save lives and provide a lifetime of protection, they also cut healthcare and treatment costs, help reduce poverty, boost local economies and contribute to political stability.

It's a small investment that reaps huge benefits as these children grow to be healthy and productive adults. Yet one in five children still don't get this life-saving protection, with 1.7 million children dying each year from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Thanks to your support of Comic Relief and its partnership with GAVI, millions of children in the poorest nations of Africa will get these vaccines that are routinely provided to children in the UK, Europe and the US.

And now, GAVI offers an innovative programme that makes Red Nose Day even more impactful. Through the GAVI Matching Fund, the UK Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provide a 100% match of contributions made to GAVI by corporations and foundations as well as their customers, employees, business partners and - as with Comic Relief - their individual donors.

This means that your gift to Comic Relief on Red Nose Day this year to support immunisation will be doubled by the Gates Foundation. That's how Comic Relief was able to make a £5 million grant to GAVI following last year's Sport Relief. This combination of public and private sector support is a powerful way of addressing global challenges. GAVI's goal is to vaccinate a quarter billion children and save 4 million lives by 2015. The generosity of the British public is helping GAVI achieve this.

That is why on Friday I will be wearing a red nose, laughing at myself and telling people about a great cause: Red Nose Day and the GAVI Alliance. I hope you will share a laugh today with a little boy or girl, too, and remember their counterparts everywhere.

Bill Roedy is the former Chairman and Chief Executive of MTV Networks International and a GAVI Alliance Envoy.