Bill Gates Challenges Global Leaders at 64th World Health Assembly: Make Vaccines a Priority to Save 10 Million Lives

By Bill Melinda Gates Foundation, PRNE
Monday, May 16, 2011

Leadership, Strong Immunization Systems, Affordable Vaccines Are Key

GENEVA, May 17, 2011 - Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, called on
government leaders to increase their investments in vaccines and to hold
themselves accountable for extending the benefits of vaccines to every child.

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In a keynote address at the 64th World Health Assembly, an annual
gathering of health ministers and global health leaders, Gates laid out his
vision for the impact that broadening access to vaccines can have on the
world. "Strong immunization systems will put an end to polio and help us
reach all children with five to six new vaccines," Gates said. "We can save
four million lives by 2015, and 10 million lives by 2020."

Gates is more optimistic than ever about the impact of vaccines.
"Vaccines are inexpensive, they are easy to deliver, and they are proven to
protect children from disease," he declared.

Recognizing that leadership is essential to achieving his vision, Gates
announced that starting in 2012, his foundation would bestow an award on an
individual or organization that has made a uniquely innovative contribution
to the Decade of Vaccines. The innovation could be in the science, the
delivery, or the financing of vaccines.

"The best immunization systems work because leaders hold themselves
accountable for results," he said. "Leaders diagnose weaknesses, innovate to
address them, and spread the best ideas."

Gates cited leaders in India and Nigeria who are responsible for
increasing immunization rates in their states, and praised the success of the
new Meningitis A vaccine that was rolled out in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger
last December, to emphasize the importance of commitments to immunization.

Gates also called on pharmaceutical manufacturers to commit to making
sure vaccines are affordable for poor countries.

"I believe we have the opportunity to make a new future in which global
health is the cornerstone of global prosperity," he said.

Achieving his vision for the next decade would depend on doing difficult,
necessary things.

    Specifically, Gates called on:

    - Donor countries to increase their investment in vaccines and
      immunization, even though they are coping with budget crises. He cited
      the GAVI Alliance pledging meeting in London on June 13 as an
      opportunity to show their support.

    - Pharmaceutical companies to make sure vaccines are affordable for poor
      countries. Specifically, they must make a commitment to affordable
      pricing. Gates said he was confident that the combined price of the
      pentavalent, pneumococcus, and rotavirus vaccines can be cut in half
      by 2015.

    - All 193 member states to make vaccines a central focus of
      their health systems. He said they must pledge to meet vaccine coverage
      targets of 90 percent at the country level with no district below 80
      percent, and ensure that all children have access to existing vaccines
      and to new ones as they become available.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda
Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In
developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them
the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the
United States
, it seeks to ensure that all people-especially those with the
fewest resources-have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in
school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO
Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill
and Melinda Gates
and Warren Buffett.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, media at, +1-206-709-3400

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