Bill and Melinda Gates pledge $10 billion for vaccines

Bill Gates Vaccine

Bill Gates and his wife Melinda will donate $10 billion over the next decade to provide vaccines for the world’s poorest countries.

Speaking Friday at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, the power couple, who head up the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said the aim was to see 90% of children in developing countries immunized against dangerous diseases.

At present, the foundation is spending more than half a billion dollars a year on vaccines, so this new pledge signifies at least a doubling of its current efforts.

If those goals are met, Gates believes 8.7 million more children will avoid death from vaccine-preventable ailments. The Microsoft founder said the cost of vaccines “is tiny and yet it saves more lives than any other component of a healthcare system.”

Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization described Gates’ commitment as “unprecedented” and called on governments and businesses around the world to also contribute.

Since stepping down as Microsoft CEO in 2008, Gates has devoted most of his time to charity, though he remains chairman of the software giant.

[Photo: Wikimedia Commons]