Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Gates adds $250M to fight against diseases

Gates said another setback can come from opponents to immunization drives, as happened when a Nigerian state boycotted the attempt to eliminate polio because of fears the vaccine was part of plot to make Muslims sterile.

"Vaccination campaigns often run into this question: Is there some hidden agenda? Something wrong with it? Even in the United States you'll often see articles about the anti-vaccine crowd, and the awful thing is that can scare people away and in many cases even in rich countries you've ended up with a lack of coverage that has ended up in children dying."





The Associated Press/GENEVA
By ALEXANDER G. HIGGINS
Associated Press Writer


Gates adds $250M to fight against diseases


MAY. 16 2:22 P.M. ET

Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates, in announcing an expansion to the $4 billion he's already spent on health initiatives, said he wants to step up the focus on the diseases that afflict poorer nations.

In an interview, he said those illnesses are generally ignored by pharmaceutical companies because they are unknown in wealthier nations, contributing to inequities in health conditions between the poor and the rich.

"I was stunned as I learned about these gaps," Gates told The Associated Press. "Another way of putting that is that we treat the value of human lives equally and say we're willing to invent the medicines and spend the money to make sure that children survive and we get rid of these epidemic diseases."

Gates also said he is using the same strategy that succeeded in building Microsoft to tackle AIDS, malaria and other deadly diseases around the world.

The featured speaker at the World Health Organization's annual assembly, Gates told the 192-nation body that he was adding $250 million -- for a total of $450 million -- to a project he began in 2003 to get the world's top scientific minds to take on the deadliest diseases.

Scientists from more than 80 countries sent in thousands of pages of ideas, he said. Ideas included vaccines that don't need refrigeration, easy-to-use devices to detect life-threatening fevers and drugs that attack diseases hiding from the immune system.

"We were so taken with the response that we increased our commitment to this research," Gates told the assembly.

Gates said in a 15-minute interview that using great minds was part of the approach he has used in building Microsoft.

"The idea of hiring very smart people and getting them to take on very optimistic goals and finding partners and believing in science -- that's very similar to the work I do at Microsoft," he said.

"Of course, it's different, but a lot of elements of what you need to bring together are very much the same. It's the same idea as creating things that are going to have to be extremely low cost, but that can benefit millions and millions of people."

Since 1995 the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has contributed more than $4 billion to global health, an aide said.

Gates, 49, said he and his wife, Melinda, became deeply involved in philanthropy in the past 10 years even though he had always thought he would wait until he was in his 60s. He said the crisis in world health made them realize that "by acting now you could have such a dramatic effect on this generation and future generations."

Gates said there was an additional payoff to fighting the diseases of the poor.

"We found out that as you improved health, it reduces population growth," he said. "That creates a virtuous cycle where you have more resources to educate a kid, feed a kid and get on the ladder of development."

It is easier to avoid corruption in providing health care than in big construction projects, he said.

"You can often track the spending all the way from the grant down to the child who needs to receive the immunization," Gates said. "We still have to be very careful. We have to have lots of measurements in place."

Gates said another setback can come from opponents to immunization drives, as happened when a Nigerian state boycotted the attempt to eliminate polio because of fears the vaccine was part of plot to make Muslims sterile.

"Vaccination campaigns often run into this question: Is there some hidden agenda? Something wrong with it? Even in the United States you'll often see articles about the anti-vaccine crowd, and the awful thing is that can scare people away and in many cases even in rich countries you've ended up with a lack of coverage that has ended up in children dying."

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home