Bill Gates Calls on Global Leaders to Make Vaccines a Priority

Speaking at the sixty-fourth World Health Assembly, which began Monday in Geneva, Bill Gates called on government leaders to increase their investments in vaccines and to hold themselves accountable for extending the benefits of immunization to every child.

In his keynote address, the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation called on donor countries to increase their investment in vaccines and immunization; pharmaceutical companies to ensure that poor countries have access to vaccines by committing to affordable pricing; and all 193 WHO member states to 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 vaccines — including those that already exist and new ones as they become available.

Gates also announced that his foundation will offer a new award next year to an individual or organization that has made a unique contribution to the foundation's Decade of Vaccines program — a ten-year, $10 billion initiative to research, develop, and deliver vaccines to the world's poorest countries.

"The best immunization systems work because leaders hold themselves accountable for results," said Gates. "Leaders diagnose weaknesses, innovate to address them, and spread the best ideas...I believe we have the opportunity to make a new future in which global health is the cornerstone of global prosperity."