Bill Gates, crown prince of Abu Dhabi announce $100m pledge for vaccines for Afghan, Pakistani children

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayanm, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, "pledged $100 million Wednesday to deliver vaccines to children in Afghanistan and Pakistan," Reuters reports (1/26).

Gates and Sheikh Mohammed each committed $50 million "for the purchase and delivery of vital vaccines" for children in Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to a Gates Foundation press release (1/25). The Wall Street Journal reports  that the "largest chunk of the $100 million pledged Wednesday will be focused on increasing the number of Afghan children that get vaccinated for a broad number of diseases, including hepatitis B, diphtheria and whooping cough. The money also will support delivery of a new vaccine for pneumococcal disease, which causes pneumonia, one of the main killers of children world-wide. A smaller amount, $34 million, is focused on fighting polio in Pakistan and Afghanistan, both conflict nations stuck in a cycle of reinfection between their populations" (Malas, 1/26).

"We're trying to get the current donors to step up a bit to make sure funding doesn't hold us back, and having new donors like Abu Dhabi is a very positive thing," Gates said, the Wall Street Journal reports, noting that Gates is expected to "press the case [on Friday] at the World Economic Forum ... that investing in preventing disease can aid the long-term stability of developing nations."

At the forum in Davos, Switzerland, Gates "will argue that the targeted investments his foundation supports—getting vaccinations to the people who most need them and wiping out cases of polio—have dramatic knock-on effects that even budget-conscious governments cannot ignore."

He is also expected to "announce a polio-related milestone with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron," the newspaper writes (1/26). In an interview with Reuters, Gates said: "The polio campaign requires about a billion dollars a year, and for 2011/2012, about $700 million of that is unfunded. ... We won't get rid of it all in these next two weeks, but it would tragic if the financing was the reason this thing failed," he added (Kelland, 1/24). 

In a story looking at the viability of polio eradication, the Associated Press/MSNBC reports that some "public health experts warned that more money won't solve all of the problems facing polio eradication." The news service has perspectives from the person who led the WHO's smallpox eradication effort and a Columbia University economist who studies polio (Cheng, 1/24).


http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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