Bill Gates all praise for Nitish Kumar at World Health Assembly

Bill Gates on Tuesday showered praise on Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at the World Health Assembly for his impressive performance of rapid vaccination for children in the state, saying “people are hungry for visionary leaders” who deliver upon their promises.

“Inter-state jealousies” over social performance are contributing to increased focus on health, the Microsoft founder told reporters here.

“I was struck by the chief minister’s popularity,” he said in his address to the 64th World Health Assembly, which is the governing body of the World Health Organisation .

“Nitish Kumar and Muhammad Pate (head of Nigeria’s polio eradication programme) have demonstrated that the best leaders can overcome the worst circumstances,” said Gates, adding, “people are hungry for visionary leaders who not only promise a better future, but deliver upon that promise.”

He urged health ministers to embark on rapid vaccination programme to reduce child mortality.

“Let us rededicate ourselves to the idea that no district will be below 80% coverage,” Gates emphasized at the annual meeting of WHA to set the priorities for the coming year.

India has one of the highest child and infant mortality rates in the world.

Despite a robust pharmaceutical industry and growing economic prosperity, India is yet to make a significant dent on its disease-burden, said health analysts.

Gates said nations must strive to “make this the decade of vaccines,” underscoring the need for donor countries not to turn a deaf ear for making generous contributions towards “vaccines and immunisation.”

The founder of Microsoft said pharmaceutical companies must manufacture affordable vaccines for poor countries, while WHO’s 193 members must “make vaccines a central focus of your health systems, to ensure that all your children have access to existing vaccines now – and to new ones as they become available.

He asked vaccine companies in the world to emulate “the Serum Institute of India, led by Dr Cyrus Poonawalla,” for manufacturing the low-cost meningitis vaccine.

Source:The Economic Times

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