Gates Discusses Foundation’s Global Health Priorities In India During Visit To Country

During a visit to the Indian state of Bihar, Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on Thursday discussed his foundation’s work in India and global health priorities, ANI/Sify News reports (3/24).

Bill and Melinda Gates are meeting this week with policymakers, NGO partners, business and community leaders, and public health figures in an effort to “explore ways to build on achievements in health and development and tackle the significant burden of disease that still exists,” according to a press release from the Gates Foundation (3/21).  

Gates said his foundation aims to focus on diseases that companies often neglect, ANI/Sify News writes. The Gates Foundation concentrates on these issues because there is “almost no research funding coming out from the profit companies, simply because there is no market for those diseases … to justify the risks involved,” Gates said. “And, so we have a particular aim and that’s what allowed a lot more TB drug discovery research, TB vaccine research, malaria research. And in developing countries these infectious diseases are the primary thing that reduces life expectancy and so we’ll stay focused on those things because that’s where you have this unbelievable neglect,” he said (3/24).

TB prevention and diagnostics is an area that needs improvement, Gates said at a press conference in New Delhi, appearing with India’s minister of science and technology, the Wall Street Journal’s “India Real Time” blog reports. “He said India had made great strides in reducing tuberculosis to 300,000 cases a year, where it was once 500,000. But, ‘that’s 300,000 that really shouldn’t’t be necessary,’ he said,” according to the blog. “Vital to stamping out tuberculosis, Mr. Gates said, was developing a low-cost vaccine. Diagnostic tests that could help eradicate the disease are also too expensive at present, he said, and that’s where Indian scientists and the Gates Foundation should partner to find a solution. ‘I’d like Indian scientists to take the basic idea and find a format that would be widely available,’ he said,” the blog reports (Anand, 3/24).

Gates also highlighted India’s success in addressing polio. “India has made substantial progress towards polio eradication, and the virus should be eradicated within two to three years,” he said, IANS/Sify Finance reports (3/24).

According to the press release, the Gateses will visit community health workers and state officials in Bihar “to see first-hand the launch of a five-year, $80 million grant made in partnership with the state government and leading Indian and international non-government organizations” (3/21).

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