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Ban, Clinton Launch Initiative Allowing Travelers To Donate To Global Health

Former President Bill Clinton and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York on Thursday launched MASSIVEGOOD – an initiative that allows travelers to make a $2 donation “to fight deadly diseases whenever they buy a plane ticket, book a hotel room or rent a car,” Bloomberg/BusinessWeek reports (Varner, 3/4).

The effort “aims to supply low-cost drugs for the developing world, helping medical workers and health officials fight HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis and improve maternal and children’s health,” the Associated Press/Washington Post writes. “The money goes to the Geneva-based Millennium Foundation, founded in 2008 to find innovative ways to finance U.N. health goals, and the U.N.-funded UNITAID, an international facility for purchasing drugs hosted by the World Health Organization, also in Geneva. Some of the money also will go to the Clinton Health Access Initiative and others who provide treatments in poor countries,” according to the news service (Heilprin, 3/4).

The program, launched in the U.S. and Europe, will be expanded to other parts of the world soon, Ban said, Bloomberg/BusinessWeek writes. Clinton said the initiative “is basically an institutionalized version of what we saw happen after the Haiti earthquake, where people were texting in $10” contributions. He added, “These systems, I predict, will empower ordinary people to change the future of the world in ways that we can only begin to imagine” (3/4).

Ban said the “partnership” between U.N. agencies and travel companies will provide an opportunity for “ordinary people … to do massive good for global health,” according to VOA News. “The initiative is the brain child of former French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, who heads UNITAID. It builds on a similar program started in France in 2006, that instituted a ‘microtax’ on airplane tickets,” VOA News writes (Besheer, 3/4).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.