Gates says vaccine boost can save up to 10 million lives

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Microsoft founder Bill Gates Tuesday called on governments to boost their investments in vaccines and immunisation, saying it could save up to 10 million lives by 2020.

"You must make vaccines a central focus of your health systems, to ensure that all your children have access to existing vaccines now, and to new ones as they become available," Gates told government officials attending the World Health Assembly.

He also urged pharmaceutical companies to ensure that vaccines are affordable and donor countries to step up their contributions.

"If donors are generous, we will prevent four million deaths by 2015. By 2020, we can prevent 10 million deaths," said the billionaire philanthropist.

Gates outlined his vision for what he described as a "decade of vaccines," saying that it could include eradicating polio, as well as introducing five or six new vaccines to all countries at prices they can afford.

"We can make this the decade in which we take full advantage of the technology of vaccines," said Gates.

"When we do it, we will build an entirely new future based on the understanding that global health is the cornerstone of global prosperity.

"It might be the most difficult thing we've ever done, but it will also be the most important," he added.

© 2011 AFP

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