UN health agency lauds $10 billion Gates Foundation pledge for decade of vaccines

29 January 2010

The United Nations health agency today welcomed the $10 billion pledge from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to research, develop and deliver life-saving vaccines over the next decade.

“The Gates Foundation’s commitment to vaccines is unprecedented, but needs to be matched by unprecedented action,” said Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“It’s absolutely crucial that both governments and the private sector step up efforts to provide life-saving vaccines to children who need them most,” she added.

The announcement by the Gates Foundation, made today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, coincides with the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI).

Since its launch in 2000, this innovative global health partnership has reached some 257 million children with new and under-used vaccines.

Vaccines and immunization have played a major role in eradicating diseases such as smallpox, and averting over two million deaths every year. At the same time, nearly 2.4 million children continue to die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Increased use of vaccines could help prevent millions of deaths worldwide and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for child health – a two-thirds reduction in the number of deaths in children under five by the target date of 2015.

News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

Childhood vaccines at all-time high, but poorest 20 per cent still lack access – UN

Reversing a downward trend, childhood immunization rates are now at their highest ever, but due to a funding gap of at least $1 billion life-saving vaccines still do not reach some 24 million children – one in five born each year – who are most at risk in the poorest countries, according to a new United Nations report released today.