Bill Gates Addresses WHO and Advocates Increased Worldwide Vaccination

by Dr Sam Girgis on May 17, 2011

Bill Gates, the founder of software giant Microsoft Inc., spoke to the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday May 17 in Geneva, Switzerland at the 64th annual World Health Assembly.  In his address to health officials from the 193 member nations, he expressed his concerns regarding the availability of vaccines to the world’s children.  In particular, he stated that in some countries of Africa, including Nigeria, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, less than half of the children are appropriately vaccinated.  He stated that this is due to many factors including lack of tracking programs and not getting out to remote areas of the countries.  Bill Gates did praise the meningitis vaccination results obtained in the West African country of Burkina Faso, which has seen only one case of meningitis this year as compared to 66 cases in the first four months of last year.  He stated that these success stories should motivate us for future vaccination efforts.  He also praised Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar, for advocating the vaccination of the children of his state.  Bill Gates stated that a strong worldwide vaccination program could save 4 million lives by 2015, and 10 million lives by 2020.  In his address, he also emphasized his goal of fully eradicating Polio from the world in the next two to four years.  There are only four countries in the world which still remain endemic for Polio, and they are Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Nigeria.  Bill Gates met with ambassadors of these four countries to express his enthusiasm for continued Polio vaccination efforts.  In these countries, there was a 95% drop in reported cases of Polio last year.   The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the second largest contributor of donations to the World Health Organization after the United States, and has contributed over $230 million toward its current two year budget.  We have previously discussed the generous donation that the Gates Foundation has give toward research for an AIDS vaccine. The eradication of the world’s last stockpiles of smallpox will be one of the many topics to be discussed and debated during this week at the World Health Assembly.  The eradication of smallpox was only accomplished by an aggressive worldwide vaccination program led by the WHO.  In the future, we can hope to see other human diseases become eradicated from the world by vaccination programs.

Reuters Photo Credit and Source

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