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Gates pledges $750m for child vaccines

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is giving $750m to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization which protects children in the developing world from preventable diseases.

The government of Norway is putting $290m in the pot and Gates is calling on other donors to meet the funding gap. The World Health Organisation estimates $8bn to $12bn is needed between 2005 and 2015 to immunise 27m children in the world's poorest countries. GAVI has raised $2.3bn towards this goal.

Gates said: "Today, a child's access to life-saving vaccines too often depends on where he or she lives in the world, and that's unacceptable....This is a solvable problem - it's time for donors, both public and private, to dramatically step up their efforts to close the immunization gap." WHO estimates that of the 10m children who die before their fifth birthday 1.4m die of a disease for which there is a vaccine and another 1.1m die of a disease for which there will soon be a vaccine.

GAVI will spend the money on supporting immunisation programmes in 72 of the world's poorest countries. Diseases targeted include diptheria, hepatitis B, tetanus and yellow fever.

GAVI has distributed 991m single-use syringes. It also works with the pharmaceutical industry to accelerate development of new vaccines.

The Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation supports projects in global health, education, public libraries and at-risk families in Washington state and Oregon. The Foundation gave GAVI $750m in 1999 to protect 670,000 people.

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