Gates on Vaccines: The Best Investment in Global Health
Feb 01, 2011

By Christine Vara
In raising my children, I have always emphasized the need for people to share their blessings with others.  Whether it is our time, our talent or our treasure, we all have something to give – something that can make an impact on other people and the world we live in. In some instances, people choose vocations that allow them to support this mission of helping others on a daily basis. In other instances, a person’s occupation choice could enable them the flexibility, the skills or even the finances to then help others. 
That might explain why I get inspired when I watch “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” with my children.  In Sunday night’s episode, a community pulled together to help the Brown family.  Tragically, they had lost their daughter in a car accident, and have now dedicated themselves to spreading the message not to text and drive in hopes of saving the lives of others.  Week after week these stories are not only inspiring to watch, but demonstrate that there are countless people trying their best to help others and positively impact the world around them.  
Most of us will probably never know about the important work these people do.  Take for instance one well-known entrepreneur, Bill Gates.  Though he’s practically a household name, he is hardly recognized for his numerous  philanthropic projects that he has initiated around the world.          
Bill Gates, best known as the man behind Microsoft, and one of the richest men in the world, has chosen to use his time, talents and treasure to improve global health.  Though he left Harvard to begin Microsoft with his childhood friend, he used his varied business skills to propel the company to success and become the worldwide leader in computer software, services, and solutions. Now, through his numerous charitable efforts, Bill Gates has identified new goals through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and has outlined a plan to achieve measurable success.  
Their mission, taken from their website, explains their mission:

“Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.”     

In regards to healthy lives, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is working to ensure that children around the world have access to life-saving vaccines and they have since declared this The Decade of Vaccines.  Their desire to deliver the vaccines we have, and develop the ones we don’t, is critical to their goals.  They hope to use vaccines to reduce the number of deaths in children under the age of 5 and save 3 million lives over the next 10 years.  In the video that follows, Bill Gates is clear that vaccines are the “simplest, most inexpensive, most effective way to give all children a shot at a healthy, productive life”.  In advocating for polio eradication, he explains how “polio anywhere, is a threat everywhere”, which acknowledges the assertion that global health impacts us all.  One of my favorite quotes from this “Vaccines Save Lives” video is the statement he makes that “Big victories, like eradicating a disease, make us proud of what human beings are able to do for one another.” 
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZvpF6gaGH4&feature=player_embedded]
What I find most compelling about Bill Gates’ messages regarding vaccines is highlighted in this second video where he is able to connect the human element of saving lives to the good business practice of “small cost, big impact”.    He explains that the delivery cost of vaccines is low, with most current vaccines costing less than a dollar, and some being able to be administered in combination with others.  He adds that we must continue to develop new vaccines for diseases like malaria and AIDS, and he emphasizes that science is key.  In order to achieve their goals, he recognizes the importance of an established delivery system that will work to ensure that parents, in even the most remote places, know to bring their children in to receive the vaccines. 
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfQxZvg1Y0s&feature=player_profilepage]
When talking about vaccines, it is obvious that Bill Gates’ goal is not about corporate profits, but about saving lives.  Personally, I am grateful that Bill Gates has the resources and exposure to make a positive impact on global health.  While we may not individually have the wealth of Bill Gates to support us in our own advocacy, we can certainly share the goals of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  We can commit ourselves, with drive and determination, to do what we know to be “doable”.   Even our small successes, when combined, can make a big impact. 
If you’re looking for a bit of inspiration, check out the remainder of the vaccines series videos on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation page.  If you know of other individuals or organizations that are working hard to improve children’s health and promote immunizations, let us know by giving them a shout out in a comment below.  We want to applaud the good work being done and share the news and inspiration with all our readers.


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