Microsoft supremo Bill Gates used yesterday's opening session of the World Health Organisation's annual assembly to pledge an extra $250m towards global health research. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has already made available $200m destined for 14 “major health challenges” - aka the Grand Challenges Initiative - since its inception in 2003.
Gates declared: "We are on the verge of taking historic steps to reduce disease in the developing world ... [if] we match these accelerating capacities of science with the emerging moral awareness of global health inequities."
"I am optimistic. I'm convinced that we will see more ground breaking scientific advances for health in the developing world in the next 10 years than we have seen in the last 50."
Cutting-edge research backed by Gates includes a malaria vaccine, currently under trial. Other initiatives are examining ways to combat HIV/AIDS and TB.
As well as opening his wallet, Gates urged world leaders to substantially increase their efforts in improving global health, stating: “There is a tragic inequity between the health of people in the developed world and the health of those in the rest of the world. I am here to talk about how the world, working together, can dramatically reduce this inequity. Never before have we had anything close to the tools we have today to both spread awareness of the problem and discover and deliver solutions.” ®