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Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman applauding Gates Foundation $10 billion pledge for vaccines

NEW YORK, 2 February 2010 – The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s unprecedented commitment of $10 billion towards the research, development and delivery of vaccines over the next 10 years emphasizes the essential role immunizations play in reducing maternal and child mortality.

Worldwide, polio cases have been reduced by over 99 per cent since 1988 and measles deaths fell by 78 per cent between 2000 and 2008. In 2008, according to experts’ estimates, a record 106 million children or infants were immunized, more than ever before. Over the past three decades, immunizations against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles and tuberculosis have been delivered as part of well-established immunization programs worldwide, saving an estimated 2.5 million young lives every year.

Despite this progress, it is estimated that 24 million children are still not being reached with life-saving vaccines.  Most of these children live in the poorest nations and communities, where preventable diseases take their deadliest toll.
These resources will ensure that more children are vaccinated and as a result more lives will be saved.

UNICEF is the world’s largest procurer of vaccines, supplying necessary vaccines to more than half of the children in the developing world. In 2007 alone, the organization bought 3.2 billion doses. In 2008, UNICEF bought 2.6 billion doses.

For further information, please contact:
Christian Moen, UNICEF New York,
Tel + 1 212 326 7516,
E-mail: cmoen@unicef.org

Brian Hansford, UNICEF New York,
Tel + 1 212 326 7269,
E-mail: bhansford@unicef.org




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