Gates seeks health equity – Focus on vaccines, childhood health

The fair distribution of health resources around the world is the ultimate goal of the The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, its top executive said June 30.

“The Foundation really has a three-word objective: Global Health Equity,” William Foege, director of the foundation’s newly formed Global Health Program, told The Lancet.

Foege and Gordon Perkin, the foundation’s executive director, said the organization will stay small and efficient to best pursue its aim of preventing and eradicating diseases that afflict the citizens of the world’s poorest countries.

The foundation has already donated $1.7 billion to attack diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS. It spends $500 million of a $21.8 billion endowment on health projects each year.

So far its efforts have focused on providing vaccines for children around the globe, on childhood and maternal health, and on attacking the diseases that kill the most people. The Gates are willing to invest substantial amounts of money in “long shots” or high-risk investments that might bring big results, Perkin said.

The foundation prefers to put money into vaccines, because once developed their benefits will reach many people far into the future, Perkin said.

Because of its small size, the foundation hopes to work with international agencies like the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the World Bank.

“The Gates Foundation is basically putting global health back on the world’s agenda, where it really wasn’t for much of the last decade,” Perkin said.

For full story, go to America Online.

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