Corporate Commitment to Improving the World Through Vaccines

01/23/2013 05:39 pm ET | Updated Mar 24, 2013

Every child deserves an equal shot at beginning his or her life healthy and safe.

But the reality is that a vast number of children - simply because of where they were born - are vulnerable to deadly diseases that have largely been muted in the rest of the world thanks to the power of vaccines.

Kids in wealthier countries are protected from measles, whooping cough, tetanus and deadly diarrhea, for example. But those who happen to be born in poorer countries often are not.

We in the corporate world can help fix this. In fact, I am convinced that the only way to ensure equal access to vaccines for all of the world's children is through business-driven solutions.

As an Envoy for the GAVI Alliance, a public-private health partnership, I have become a passionate advocate for immunisation as the necessary investment we must make for future generations. It's not just about a child's health - it is about giving a child the opportunity to grow, learn, succeed and lead.

That is why I am attending the World Economic Forum to meet with some of the most innovative, far-sighted and socially-minded companies that are already helping vaccinate millions of poor children the world over.

These companies and private entities include Vodafone, Comic Relief, ARK, Anglo American, CIFF, J.P. Morgan, "la Caixa" bank and LDS Charities. Each of them has become a member of the GAVI Matching Fund, an innovative mechanism under which contributions to GAVI from companies, foundations, their customers, employees and business partners are matched 100% by the UK Government or the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Their investment in the fund - with either cash or services and expertise -- is very smart, not only because vaccines are one of the most powerful and cost-effective solutions in global health, but also because they provide long-term economic value. They help keep kids healthy and in school, spark productivity and become engines of economic growth. Vaccines are the most cost-effective health intervention behind national economic growth in developing countries. And, ultimately, they benefit the companies that want to do business there.

At the WEF, I will be participating in a breakfast meeting with the CEOs and executives of these firms and others who are interested in learning more about the long-term benefits of vaccination. This will be a unique moment when Bill Gates, the UK government, GAVI leadership and corporate leaders gather to make commitments to contribute to a healthier world.

It will surely be the most inspirational breakfast of the year. If you or your company's CEO is not there, do plan on joining us in 2014.