A campaign to vaccinate millions of children in poor countries has received a major boost.
Britain and the billionaire Bill Gates have been the first to pledge money at an international donor conference for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation.
Australia had already pledged a large amount, and other countries are expected to follow suit.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said: “If, as I hope and expect, we reach GAVI’s target of 3.7 billion dollars over the next five years, we will protect at least a quarter of a billion children against killer diseases and save four million lives. Think about that – a quarter of a billion children protected from disease, four million lives saved.
“In this world, where countries are tackling deficits and more than ever before, the emphasis is, quite rightly, on getting value for money, what greater value for money can there possibly be?”
Gates, the founder of Microsoft, helped to set up the vaccine and immunisation alliance more than a decade ago. It hopes to raise the equivalent of an extra 2.6 billion euros (3.7 billion dollars) to fund programmes until 2015.