02/25/2015 17:45 EST | Updated 04/27/2015 05:59 EDT

Stephen Harper tells parents to listen to scientists about vaccines

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says parents in developed countries have a responsibility to set an example for those in less-educated countries when it comes to using vaccines, and advised people to listen to scientists and doctors.

Harper was speaking at a maternal, newborn and child health event with American philanthropist Bill Gates. The two were discussing what comes after the UN's millennium development goals expire later this year.

One of the topics was how effective vaccinations have become at almost eliminating polio. Harper used the topic to segue into the debate in North America and Europe about the measles vaccine. Some parents have stopped having their children vaccinated despite overwhelming scientific evidence that vaccines are effective and safe.

"We in the educated, advanced — medically advanced — sophisticated part of the world, we have a responsibility when it comes to this. Not just a responsibility to vaccinate our children, which I think every parent has a responsibility to do, and not just a responsibility to encourage that widespread vaccination so we're not putting other kids at risk," Harper said.

"But we have a responsibility to set an example, for God's sake. We know these medical interventions work. And as an advanced, educated society, it's completely irresponsible of people in this society to communicate anything other than that anywhere else in the world.

"So get your kids vaccinated, get the facts from the medical and scientific community, and if you're not a doctor or scientist yourself, listen to the people who are. It's that simple."