In his Annual Letter, the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said getting vaccines to people who need them is a key challenge but can have a dramatic impact on global health. He pointed to improved childhood mortality statistics and steep declines in the number of people suffering from polio, tetanus, TB and other vaccine-preventable illnesses, but said more can be done.
Gates said setting clear targets and rigorously measuring success – just as successful companies do – will have to get better value for investment. Resources would be used more efficiently if successful programmes were expanded and failing projects were either fixed or ended.
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) January 30, 2013
The letter puts considerable emphasis on health as well as education and contraception, and lauded the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG), driving progress in developing countries by defining clear targets.
Gates said the fight to end polio is his top priority, adding that his Foundation and other organisations were learning to harness the latest tools – including smarter maps and satellite technology – as part of the global eradication effort.
Alluding to recent attacks on polio immunisation workers in Pakistan, Gates referred to vaccinators as “heroes” and said the best tribute to their memory would be to “finish the job” of eradication.