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Leadership + Innovation = Lives Saved

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Today in Nairobi, hundreds of children will receive protection from pneumonia. Kenya's President Emilio Mwai Kibaki will join GAVI Alliance CEO Helen Evans, John Hopkins University's Dr. Orin Levine, pediatricians, health workers, and other partners to celebrate the introduction of a new vaccine against pneumonia in Kenya.

Leadership + Innovation = Lives Saved

Vaccines are a major priority at the foundation because they are the most cost-effective way to save lives and prevent disease for a lifetime. By rapidly scaling up the roll-out of the pneumonia vaccine to more than 40 countries, including Kenya, GAVI and its partners can prevent approximately 700,000 deaths by 2015 and up to seven million deaths by 2030.

The introduction of pneumonia vaccines in some of the world's poorest countries is a story about innovation and political leadership -- not only in Kenya, but also in such donor countries as the United Kingdom, Norway, Canada, Italy and Russia. These countries joined GAVI, vaccine makers and the foundation to develop the innovative financing mechanism known as the Advance Market Commitment (AMC) that made today's ceremony possible.

I'll spare you the financial details. What's important to know is that the AMC has brought a state-of-the art pneumonia vaccine to Kenya about 18 months after it was introduced in Europe. That's revolutionary; until now, it took 15 to 20 years for new vaccines to trickle down to poor countries.

Last month, I had the good fortune to visit with Kenyan mothers whose babies were among the first to be immunized. Those moms knew what I know: vaccines are miracles, and they should be available to all the world's children. Together, we can make this happen.