* In keynote speech to WHO, Gates lays down challenge
* Urges drug companies to make available affordable vaccines
(adds quotes, background)
GENEVA, May 17 (Reuters) - Bill Gates called on Tuesday for
strengthened immunisation programmes against infectious diseases
to save 4 million lives by 2015 and 10 million lives by 2020
during a "decade of vaccines".
The Microsoft founder and philanthropist said five or six
new vaccines could be available by the end of the decade and
urged pharmaceutical manufacturers to make them affordable for
"If donors are generous, we will prevent 4 million deaths by
2015. By 2020, we can prevent 10 million deaths," Gates,
co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said.
He was addressing the annual assembly of the World Health
Organisation (WHO) in Geneva, attended by health ministers from
the U.N. agency's 193 member states.
All countries should aim to have 90 percent immunisation
coverage against diseases including polio, meningitis and
pneumonia, Gates said.
"We can meet these goals with your leadership. And that will
be critical to really making this the decade of vaccines," he
said. "It might be the most difficult thing we've ever done, but
it will also be the most important."
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay)
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