January 30, 2006

Positivity: Gates Pledges $900 Million For Tuberculosis Eradication

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:13 am

This a tripling of his Foundation’s current level, and is necessary because the disease is as deadly as ever (HT, and content from after the first three paragraphs, to Happy News):

Gates pledges $900 mil. in TB fight

DAVOS, Switzerland — Bill Gates pledged Friday to triple his foundation’s funding for eradicating tuberculosis to a total of $900 million by 2015 …..

The funding is part of a larger campaign against TB, which killed 1.6 million worldwide last year. Gates, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and British treasury chief Gordon Brown called for help to prevent 14 million tuberculosis deaths in the next decade.

“This is a very tough disease,” said Gates, the Microsoft Corp. chairman and co-founder. “It is going to take all of us — private sector, the pharmaceutical companies, philanthropy and governments in countries that have the disease — to participate as well.”

The Global Plan to Stop Tuberculosis was formed by the Stop Tuberculosis Partnership, a group of 400 organizations. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation already has given $300 million to help fight the disease.

Britain also said Friday it would commit $74 million to fight tuberculosis in India.

”If 2005 was the year of commitments, 2006 must be the year of delivery,” Brown said. ”That’s why, when the G8 finance ministers meet in Moscow in only a few days time, I will put on the agenda how we can meet the commitments to fund this specific plan.”

Brown also said he would propose to the G8 ministers expanding a debt relief agreement made last year to some of the world’s poorest nations.

To fully implement the tuberculosis eradication plan will cost an estimated $56 billion during the next decade _ $47 billion for tuberculosis control and $9 billion for research and development, said Marcos Espinal, executive secretary of the partnership.

He said 60 percent of the funding should come from tuberculosis-affected countries and the remaining 40 percent from the G-8 and other donor countries.

Espinal said new research was yielding help in fighting the disease, adding that 27 new tuberculosis drugs were being developed and four vaccines were in early-stage trials. The new vaccines are needed because many of the strains of tuberculosis, which is spread by sneezing and coughing, are resistant to existing drugs.

Obasanjo said implementing the new tuberculosis plan should be a priority for African leaders.

Nigeria will host a meeting of African heads of state in May, and Obasanjo said he would make the issue a priority for them and the African Union.

”The Global Plan is fundamental for Africa, where tuberculosis was declared an emergency by 46 countries in 2005,” he said. ”We hope the African Union will endorse this plan and call upon African governments to commit their share of the resources needed to implement it.”

The World Health Organization also welcomed the announcement of increased funding.

”This funding from the UK government and from the Gates Foundation shows real, long-term commitment to the global effort to stop tuberculosis,” WHO chief Dr. Lee Jong-wook said. ”We must now act urgently to raise all the funds needed to put the plan into action.”

Gates said the increase in funding was because of his goal to see the disease treated with new drugs and effective regimens.

”This plan makes a compelling case for greater investment in tuberculosis,” he said. ”We’re willing to triple our funding for tuberculosis, and we urge others to do the same.

”If we have the chance to save 14 million lives, and a clear plan to make it happen, we have an obligation to act.”

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