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accines save millions of lives each year and are among the most cost-effective health interventions ever developed. Immunization has led to the eradication of smallpox, a 74 percent reduction in childhood deaths from measles over the past decade, and the near-eradication of polio.
Despite these great strides, there remains an urgent need to reach all children with life-saving vaccines. One in five children worldwide are not fully protected with even the most basic vaccines. As a result, an estimated 1.5 million children die each year—one every 20 seconds—from vaccine-preventable diseases such as diarrhea and pneumonia. Tens of thousands of other children suffer from severe or permanently disabling illnesses.
Vaccines are often expensive for the world’s poorest countries, and supply shortages and a lack of trained health workers are challenges as well.
At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, all of our investments in vaccines and immunization contribute to the goals of the Decade of Vaccines. As one entity within the greater vaccine community—which includes national governments, other donors, international organizations, the private sector, academia, civil society organizations, faith-based organizations, and local communities—we are working to ensure that existing life-saving vaccines are introduced into countries where people need them most and to support the innovation needed to develop new vaccines and new delivery technologies and approaches...