Global leaders unite to reaffirm commitment to end polio and improve child healthABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, March 6, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and in partnership with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, it was announced today that a Global Vaccine Summit will be held in Abu Dhabi on April 24-25, 2013. The Summit will endorse the critical role that vaccines and immunization play in saving lives and protecting children for a lifetime. It aims to turn a spotlight on the importance of building and maintaining powerful routine immunization systems to keep all children healthy, no matter where they live. Despite tremendous progress, one child still dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could have been prevented by an existing vaccine. The Summit, held during World Immunization Week ( April 24-30), will continue the momentum of the Decade of Vaccines -- a vision and commitment to reach all people with the vaccines they need. The Global Vaccine Summit will showcase how the world is uniting to improve child health by developing better and more affordable vaccines, by providing access to existing and new vaccines, and by strengthening routine immunization. "We must continue to immunize every child against polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "We have seen an unprecedented level of commitment for eradicating polio from political, religious and community leaders at all levels. Together, we can and will finish the job." At the summit, donors, global leaders and partners will demonstrate their support for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative's Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018, the first comprehensive plan to lay out all the critical elements needed to achieve eradication. Ending polio is an early milestone in the global roadmap to save more than 20 million lives by 2020. "Thanks to tremendous progress in 2012, we now have a unique window of opportunity to change history and end polio," said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We must invest now to ensure strong immunization systems will protect our gains against polio and help us reach mothers and children with other life-saving vaccines and additional health services." "The Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi is another critical step to ensuring that all children have access to life-saving vaccines. This collaboration is part of our ongoing work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, potentially transforming generations to come. Under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, we remain committed to advancing the opportunities and benefits of a healthy global society through childhood immunizations," stated His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The organizing partners of the Global Vaccine Summit are: UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the GAVI Alliance, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The United Arab Emirates' work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: In January 2011, His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, pledged a total of $100 million – $50 million from each partner – for the purchase and delivery of vital vaccines that will save Afghan and Pakistani children and prevent disease for a lifetime. The partnership is resulting in the immunization of approximately five million children in Afghanistan against six deadly diseases, and will help the World Health Organization and UNICEF workers reach approximately 35 million children in Afghanistan and Pakistan with oral polio vaccines. About the UN and Vaccines Immunization reaches 80 per cent of the world's children, saving 2.5 million lives annually. Despite these successes, 23 million children are still being missed each year, mostly from the poorest, most vulnerable communities. To reach the unimmunized, the United Nations and its partners support vaccine procurement and distribution mechanisms, strengthen local health systems, help to secure sustainable funding for immunization, and advocate to reduce inequalities in access to essential vaccines and other life-saving interventions. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.