Vaccines Save Lives: Every Child, Everywhere

Today we get to celebrate a significant milestone for global health equity.

The GAVI Alliance, an organization that helps make sure children in poor countries get the same vaccines that children in rich countries do, just met its fundraising target for the next four years. They did it despite the fact that donors everywhere are coping with budget crises.

This news comes on the heels of an announcement by several multinational and developing country vaccine manufacturers that they will be lowering the prices of some key vaccines. Together, these developments mean that we can save more than 4 million additional lives by 2015.

Vaccines are one of the best long-term investments to prevent disease and give children a healthy start in life. But for a long time, the healthiest children in the least danger were getting vaccines, and the children who needed vaccines the most weren't getting them. In many cases, it took decades before vaccines made for developed-country markets were available in poor countries. Take the example of rotavirus, the leading causes of diarrheal disease. Only children in poor countries die from rotavirus, yet the vaccines for the disease was made available first in rich countries!

That's why increasing access to vaccines for the world's poorest countries is one of the top priorities of the Gates Foundation, and that's why today we pledged an additional $1 billion to support the lifesaving work of the GAVI Alliance over the next five years. We were joined by many other donors who understand that buying vaccines saves lives, and who know it is an investment worth making, no matter how tight their budgets.

I hope we celebrate this fantastic news by redoubling our efforts to reach the next milestone, and the next, until there is no longer any gap in health care between rich and poor countries.

With the continued generosity of donors and the commitment of developing countries to reach every child, everywhere, the world will reach the point where the circumstances of a child's birth have nothing to do with whether he or she gets lifesaving vaccines.

More to Explore:

Our Work in Vaccines

Originally posted on the blog of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Bill Gates is the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He regularly posts his thoughts about the Foundation's work and other projects on his personal web site, The Gates Notes.