Saturday, November 19, 2005

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Provide Funds for Medical Care in African Nations

The World Health Organization (W.H.O.), a 192 member organization and the public health arm of the United Nations, aims for “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.” The annual budget of the W.H.O. is $1.65 billion. However, since 2000, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has spent over $6 billion to address Third World health issues.

Much of this money has been allocated to alleviate the damage done by rampant HIV infection and malaria. Malaria alone kills as many a three million people each year. Almost all of the victims are under five, desperately poor, and African. Twelve billion dollars, nearly 40% of public health spending, is spent in Africa each year.

In October, the foundation committed more than $258 million to the advancement of a malaria vaccine that helped protect children in Mozambique. A large portion of the funds, $107 million, of the funds will go to develop an experimental malaria vaccine and will cover the completion of testing in Africa and the licensing process, should the vaccine prove viable. A study in Mozambique has found the vaccine cut the risk of severe malaria among young children by 58 percent.

In July, President Bush announced a $1.7 billion aid package for Africa devoted primarily to combating malaria. As skeptics noted, the President has announced such initiatives before, and then failed to fulfill them. In addition, others claim that the aid package was created in part by repackaging previous pledges. As the headline of one article proclaimed, “The health of the world depends more on Bill Gates than on the World Health Organization.” Few could disagree with this statement.

Baker, Peter. “Bush Pledges $1.2 Billion For Africa to Fight Malaria,” Washington Post, Friday, July 1, 2005.
Specter, Michael. “What Money Can Buy,” The New Yorker, October, 24, 2005.

1 comment:

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