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At World Economic Forum, Gates Foundation Announces 10-Year, $10B Vaccine Commitment

Bill and Melinda Gates announced Friday during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that their foundation would commit $10 billion over the next decade to research, develop and deliver vaccines for the world’s poorest countries, the New York Times reports (McNeil, 1/29). The Gateses “said they hope the commitment would spur support by governments, corporations, and other donors for vaccinations efforts,” the Chronicle of Philanthropy writes (Wilhelm, 1/29).

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s commitment is in addition to $4.5 billion the foundation has already allocated to vaccines and “comes amid growing worries at the World Health Organization and other health groups that funding shortfalls will stifle the distribution of promising new vaccines and allow diseases like polio to spread in new areas,” the Wall Street Journal reports (Guth, 1/28).

Bloomberg writes that the foundation used a model developed by a consortium lead by “the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to project the impact of vaccines on childhood deaths over the next decade. By vaccinating 90 percent of the population in developing countries, the deaths of about 7.6 million children under the age of 5 could be prevented in the next decade, according to the Gates foundation. An additional 1.1 million lives would be saved by the introduction of a malaria vaccine beginning in 2014, the foundation said” (Serafino/Humber, 1/29).

“Whether such an optimistic prediction comes true depends on several factors that are still uncertain,” such as the goal of increasing the percentage of children receiving routine vaccines “like measles, diphtheria, whooping cough and polio” from 80 percent to 90 percent,” the New York Times writes. The article details several other assumptions that Gates’ model takes into consideration, like the availability of a malaria vaccine, and includes comments by Julian Lob-Levyt, CEO of the GAVI Alliance (McNeil, 1/29).

“We must make this the decade of vaccines,” Bill Gates said, adding, “Vaccines already save and improve millions of lives in developing countries. Innovation will make it possible to save more children than ever before,” the London Times reports. The newspaper continues, “Among the infections to be targeted with the money are rotavirus, which causes severe diarrhoea, and pneumococcal disease, which causes pneumonia, blood poisoning, and a form of meningitis.”

“Commenting on Mr. Gates’s announcement, Margaret Chan, the World Health Organisation’s director-general said: ‘The Gates Foundation’s commitment to vaccines is unprecedented, but just a small part of what is needed. 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,'” the London Times reports (Lister, 1/29).

Maternal, Child Mortality, Food Security, Poverty

Canwest/the National Post reports on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s speech to the World Economic Forum Thursday, where he discussed his plans for the G8 to focus on improving maternal and child health in developing countries (Akin, 1/28). The Canadian Press/The Chronicle Herald reports on the reception Harper’s speech received, including for his maternal and child health plan (Scoffield, 1/29).

VOA News reports on ongoing discussions at the World Economic Forum about global food security and poverty. The article examines the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) president’s address to delegates about the ties between investing in smallholder farms and the economic growth of developing countries.

“From our experience, we know that smallholder farmers produce the majority of food that is consumed in the developing world … and that access to inputs and access to markets are essential,” IFAD President Kanayo Nwanze said. “And this is where the private sector has a key role to play.” Nwanze commended the G8’s commitment of $20 billion last year and lauded the U.S. commitment to agriculture development (DeCapua, 1/28).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.