Gates urges rich countries not to cut health aid

NEW DELHI Wed Nov 5, 2008 4:18pm IST

NEW DELHI Nov 5 (Reuters) - Microsoft founder Bill Gates on Wednesday said he was worried the global financial crisis he says could last two to three years might drive rich countries to cut back spending on health aid for the developing world.

Echoing comments made last week by U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon, the billionaire philanthropist said the world's poorest people will suffer the most during the economic slowdown, and said a "strong voice" was needed to keep them a global priority.

"We certainly are concerned that some of the rich world governments could either reduce their increase or even cut back the amount they spend on these issues," Gates said in India's capital.

"We have to admit that getting that generosity gets even more challenging when there's tough economic times".

Gates said he expected the United States to undergo a period of "economic contraction" for two to three years as a result of a meltdown in the housing market and heavy consumer debt.

Gates was optimistic about the newly elected American president Barack Obama's efforts to tackle global health issues, saying Obama has "shown a lot of interest" and would "drive improvements in those areas".

Gates is on a visit to India on behalf of his charitable foundation to tackle health issues, focusing on polio eradication and fighting HIV/AIDS.

Meeting with Indian health officials and polio experts, Gates said he was confident polio can be successfully eradicated with India leading the way.

Gates called for increased government spending on health and urged Indian health officials to consider using innovative approaches such as injection vaccines to tackle the crippling disease.

While a lot more expensive and trickier to administer, the injected IPV vaccine could be used in addition to oral vaccines to stop the spread of polio in high-risk areas.

Oral vaccines have not proven to be as effective in India as elsewhere, a problem which some researchers suspect is down to poor sanitation and a higher presence of other diseases that stop the vaccine working properly.

A world effort to beat polio has succeeded in slashing the number of cases by 99 percent over the past two decades, but the disease is still endemic in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed more than $17 billion in grants since it began in 1994, and has given hundreds of millions of dollars in a global campaign to eradicate polio. (Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Sanjeev Miglani)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Shares Hit Record

Sensex, Nifty rise to second consecutive record high

Sensex surges 500 points on BOJ easing, L&T gains

The BSE Sensex and Nifty surged to record highs for a second consecutive session on Friday after Bank of Japan's surprise expansion of its massive stimulus programme raised hopes for additional foreign inflows, boosting blue-chips such as Larsen & Toubro.  Full Article 

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Ban on E-Cigs?

Ban on E-Cigs?

Govt considers ban on e-cigarettes, sale of single smokes.  Full Article 

Commodities

Commodities

Silver futures in India hit four-year low on global cues.  Full Article 

BOJ Policy

BOJ Policy

BOJ shocks markets with surprise easing as inflation slows.  Full Article 

Cost Cutting

Cost Cutting

PM Narendra Modi boots officials out of the first class cabin  Full Article 

Leisure Riding

Leisure Riding

Harley-Davidson woos affluent young Indians with bike culture  Full Article 

Shadow Banking

Shadow Banking

China's shadow banking sector growing rapidly, third largest in world - FSB.  Full Article 

Moody's on India

Moody's on India

Moody's welcomes India's policy steps, but wants to see more.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage