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“The amazing polio eradication campaign is very close to success – how tragic that would be if it failed because of lack of generosity,” says Bill Gates.

Concerned that governments, looking for places to reduce spending, will target foreign aid, Gates says, “There’s a history of some aid really making a difference – the aid for vaccines, for new seeds – and that’s the kind of aid, even as deficits are so daunting, I’d like to convince governments to keep as a priority.”

In his annual letter, Gates outlined two other benefits of widespread vaccination beyond simply saving lives. One was the reduction in sickness that contributes to disability, affects mental development, hampers human development, and exacerbates the development of economies.

The second advantage is a reduction in overpopulation: “As the childhood death rate is reduced, within 10 to 20 years this reduction is strongly associated with families choosing to have fewer children. While it might seem logical that saving children’s lives will cause overpopulation, the opposite is true. It is the reason why childhood health issues are key to so many other issues, including having resources for education, providing enough jobs, and not destroying the environment.”

Although the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed 10 billion dollars to a “decade of vaccines” to develop and deliver vaccines to the world’s poorest countries, it won’t be enough. “The group which helps poor countries purchase vaccines and increase vaccine coverage is the GAVI Alliance, and like the polio campaign, its success will depend on donor generosity.”

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