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Saturday, February 2, 2002

Support for The Vaccine Fund

Queen Rania joins global efforts in support of an initiative that provides lifesaving vaccines around the world

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department - New York) Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah demonstrated her strong belief in comprehensive healthcare for children by joining members of the US Congress, top executives in the business community, and heads of international organizations to extend support to an initiative that provides life-saving vaccines around the world.

Attending a function with the Vaccine Fund in New York, Queen Rania joined Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, former US First Lady Senator Hillary Clinton, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, Congressman Jim Kolbe, Senator Patrick Leahy, and Senator John Kerry, among others, to support the non-profit organization that raises funds to provide children in the world's poorest countries with immunizations.

Queen Rania recently joined the Vaccine Fund's Board of Directors, chaired by former South African president Nelson Mandela, and consisting of a number of world-famous personalities, including former Mozambique Minister of Education Graca Machel, among others.

Bill Gates Saturday paid tribute to Queen Rania for her support of the Vaccine Fund, charactering her participation in the organization's Board of Directors as a "great development" that will help promote the work of the organization.

"Another great development is that we have Queen Rania agreeing to be involved and help out with the Fund. And I am sure that will help fantastically as we take the cause around the world," he said.

In his remarks at the function, the President of the Vaccine Fund, Jacques-Francois Martin, also paid tribute to Queen Rania for her "leadership" and efforts on behalf of children.

"Your Majesty, your presence here tonight with us and your commitment…to our cause, is an honor and a privilege. Thank you very much for the support you have already brought to the Vaccine Fund," he said.

"Your leadership as a mother and a Queen is going to be a tremendous asset for the board of the Vaccine Fund," he further added.

Queen Rania met with Martin and other representatives of the Vaccine Fund in Amman last month. Speaking at the function, Queen Rania praised the Vaccine Fund for its "practical" approach of providing vials and vaccines, and supporting services and safe-injection activities to help promote child survival and overall well-being.

"The credibility of this vision is one of the things that drew me to the Board. The Vaccine Fund is as lean as any organization can get. It committed itself to a new, global approach to its work. The underlying concept was very simple: buy vaccines and outsource inoculation to organizations that already have existing infrastructure on the ground," she said.

In line with the organization's ambitious motto to 'Vaccinate, Every Child, Everywhere,' Queen Rania urged the audience to also "Think Big," adding that such an approach would guarantee that "the return for mankind will be even bigger."

The Vaccine Fund was launched in early 2000 with a $750 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is also supported by the Governments of Norway, the Netherlands, the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Canada.

In the two years since its inception, the Fund has been able to raise and commit almost $800 million to support immunization efforts in 52 of the world's poorest countries.

The organization is a partner of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, which is made up governments, foundations, and institutions such as the United Nations Children's Fund, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and the Rockefeller Foundation, among others.

Saturday's function, which brought together 100 individuals, was hosted by Hank McKinnell, the Chairman and CEO of the pharmaceutical corporation, Pfizer.