William Henry Bill Gates III, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, laid out his vision for the impact that broadening access to vaccines can have on the world.
In a keynote address at the 64th World Health Assembly, an annual gathering of health ministers and global health leaders, the Microsoft founder and philanthropist called on government leaders to increase their investments in vaccines and to hold themselves accountable for extending the benefits of vaccines to every child.
Strong immunization systems will put an end to polio and help us reach all children with five to six new vaccines. We can save four million lives by 2015, and 10 million lives by 2020. Vaccines are inexpensive, they are easy to deliver, and they are proven to protect children from disease, Gates said.
Gates said five or six new vaccines could be available by the end of the decade and urged pharmaceutical manufacturers to make them 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.
He was addressing the annual assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, attended by health ministers from the United Nations agency's 193 member states.
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.
Gates called on 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.
Gates called on 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.
Below are some of the pictures of Bill Gates addressing the 64th World Health Assembly: