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Opinion Pieces Address Global Vaccine Summit

Project Syndicate last week published two opinion pieces addressing the Global Vaccine Summit, held in Abu Dhabi from April 24-25, which was hosted by His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, in partnership with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The following is a summary of those pieces.

  • Desmond Tutu: “The vaccine summit builds on a commitment last year by nearly 200 countries to eradicate polio, develop new and improved vaccines at affordable prices, and deliver them to every child by 2020,” the Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate writes. He recounts his personal experience with polio as a child, discusses progress in the global effort to stamp out the disease, and continues, “Ending polio will be a key milestone on the path to realizing this vision. And the summit in Abu Dhabi has provided a clear plan to get there by 2018 — a strategy that complements other efforts to raise immunization coverage for diseases such as measles, pneumonia, and rotavirus.” He adds, “Strengthening routine immunization will protect our gains against polio and enable us to reach the most vulnerable children in the hardest-to-reach and most underserved communities. … We must do it. And when we succeed, it will be a triumph for humanity” (4/24).
  • Ban Ki-moon and Bill Gates: “Along with Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, we attach great importance to the world’s first global summit, being held this week in Abu Dhabi, aimed at ensuring that all children have access to the full benefits of vaccines,” the U.N. Secretary General and Gates write. They discuss the benefits and cost-effectiveness of vaccination and state, “Yet more than 22 million children lack access to the basic vaccines that people in high-income countries take for granted.” They note, “Raising global immunization coverage will speed progress toward the [Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)] and generate momentum toward a successful post-2015 development agenda,” and they highlight the vision of “the Decade of Vaccines” — “a world free from vaccine-preventable diseases, with the full benefits of immunization reaching all people, regardless of who they are or where they live.” They write, “Over the next 1,000 days and beyond, our progress will be measured by what we have done to improve the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable members of the human family” (4/23).