ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, April 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 300 global leaders, health and development experts, vaccinators, celebrities, philanthropists, and business leaders will gather tomorrow in Abu Dhabi in the first Global Vaccine Summit to endorse the critical role that vaccines and immunization play in giving children a healthy start to life. Despite tremendous progress, one child still dies every 20 seconds from preventable diseases like pneumonia, rotavirus, measles, and meningitis.
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The Summit, focused on the power of vaccines, is being held during World Immunization Week (April 24-30) to continue the momentum of the Decade of Vaccines -- a vision and commitment to reach all people with the vaccines they need. Ending polio is a critical milestone in this vision.
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will deliver a keynote to celebrate progress and honor the individuals, communities, partners and nations that have made success possible. The speech will be webcast live at www.globalvaccinesummit.org.
"Vaccines work to save lives and protect children for a lifetime," said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "By investing in stronger immunization systems, we can protect our gains against polio and reach mothers and children with other health services."
The world is coming together around the Global Vaccine Action Plan, endorsed by nearly 200 countries last May, to develop better and more affordable vaccines and deliver them through stronger routine immunization systems. If we succeed, we can save more than 20 million lives and prevent nearly one billion illnesses by 2020. This will save nearly $12 billion in treatment costs and achieve more than $800 billion in economic gains as vaccinated children live longer, healthier, more productive lives.
"The Global Vaccine Summit is an historic gathering of global leaders and innovators whose collaboration can have a significant and positive impact on ensuring a healthy global society. Under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, we remain committed to supporting the delivery of lifesaving vaccines to children around the world," said His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
"Immunization is one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent disease and safeguard young lives," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "The global success so far in fighting polio shows how far we can advance. Our great progress came thanks to an international alliance of partners. Today, we have a window of opportunity to end polio forever."
The Global Vaccine Summit is being held in partnership with His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Summit attendees, including ministers of health, front-line health care workers, international non-governmental organizations and donors, will discuss how the global community can assure that children everywhere have access to vaccines, how the roadmap to polio eradication works, and the opportunities afforded by new vaccine and delivery innovations. The full agenda for the Summit is available here.
The United Arab Emirates' work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation:
In January 2011, His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, pledged a total of $100 million – $50 million from each partner – for the purchase and delivery of vital vaccines that will save Afghan and Pakistani children and prevent disease for a lifetime. The partnership is resulting in the immunization of approximately five million children in Afghanistan against six deadly diseases, and will help the World Health Organization and UNICEF workers reach approximately 35 million children in Afghanistan and Pakistan with oral polio vaccines.
About the UN and Vaccines
Immunization reaches 80 percent of the world's children, saving 2.5 million lives annually. Despite these successes, 23 million children are still being missed each year, mostly from the poorest, most vulnerable communities. To reach the unimmunized, the United Nations and its partners support vaccine procurement and distribution mechanisms, strengthen local health systems, help to secure sustainable funding for immunization, and advocate to reduce inequalities in access to essential vaccines and other life-saving interventions.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.
SOURCE Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation