Microsoft Corp Chair Bill Gates and wife Melinda sat down with Vietnam’s prime minister on Tuesday April 3 to discuss ways to improve children’s health in the communist country.
“We’re learning about the Vietnamese immunisation system,” Bill Gates said.
The world’s richest couple arrived Sunday for a three-day trip to learn about Vietnam’s health programmes, including vaccines given for preventable childhood diseases like measles and polio. No agreements were signed.
Bill Gates congratulated prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Vietnam’s recent accession to the World Trade Organisation, and highlighted his company’s success in Vietnam before the 45-minute meeting began behind closed doors.
“Microsoft is very happy with its presence here,” Gates said.
Prior to the meeting, the couple sat down with health ministry officials along with representatives from the World Health Organisation, Unicef and nonprofit organisations to discuss Vietnam’s vaccination system.
“They said it would be a good example for other countries in the world to follow our vaccination programmes for children,” said Nguyen Tran Hien, director of the National Institute for Hygiene and Epidemiology.
On Monday, the Gates’ agreed in principle to support Vietnam with research on vaccine development for children, said Nguyen Thi Hong Hanh, vice director of the institute.
The couple also visited two clinics on the outskirts of Hanoi on Monday, chatting with new mothers and watching babies being immunised, said Duong Thi Khien, director of the Dong Anh district health centre.
“The programme has managed to get 90% of under 1 children immunised against fatal diseases,” Bill Gates was quoted as telling the Vietnam News. “This is a particularly well-run public health system.”
Bill Gates first visited Vietnam a year ago, when thousands of young Vietnamese greeted him like a rock star at a university where he spoke.
This trip, however, has been quiet with little information about the visit being released.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was created in 2000. It is the world’s largest philanthropic foundation with an endowment of about US$33 billion. It concentrates on promoting global health, ending poverty and hunger, and enhancing education.