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Gates Foundation Commits More than $500 Million to Tackle The Burden of Infectious Disease in Developing Countries

In an address to American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Bill Gates says that the Ebola epidemic underscores the urgent need for R&D to stay ahead of emerging disease threats, and declares that new drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines can eradicate malaria by the middle of the 21st Century.

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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

NEW ORLEANS (November 2, 2014) – Calling the Ebola epidemic a “critical moment in the history of global health,” Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, today urged greater investment in scientific innovation to ensure that the world stays ahead of rapidly evolving disease threats such as drug-resistant malaria and dengue fever.

Addressing the 63rd annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Gates announced that the foundation is committing more than $500 million in 2014 to reduce the burden of malaria, pneumonia, diarrheal diseases, and an array of parasitic infections that are leading causes of death and disability in developing countries. Gates also announced that the foundation has boosted its annual funding for malaria by 30 percent, and he laid out a vision for how malaria can be eradicated by the middle of the 21st century.

Gates said important lessons from the Ebola epidemic must guide the world’s response to all infectious diseases, particularly the need to strengthen health systems in developing countries, improve infectious disease surveillance systems and sustain investments in the R&D pipeline.

“The Ebola epidemic has shown, once again, that in today’s interconnected world, health challenges anywhere create health challenges everywhere – and the best way to overcome those challenges is to dedicate ourselves to the great cause of reducing the global burden of infectious disease,” Gates said in his prepared remarks.

On September 10, the foundation announced a $50 million commitment to support the scale up of efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. This funding – which is in addition to the more than $500 million announced today – will support emergency response efforts for Ebola, including capacity building and the establishment of Emergency Operations Centers in affected countries. The foundation is also supporting research on Ebola interventions, including rapid diagnostics, vaccines and ZMapp, an experimental Ebola treatment.


In his address, Gates described a detailed vision for how to achieve malaria eradication before the middle of the 21st century – a goal he said is “both a necessary objective and an attainable one” given significant recent progress against the disease worldwide. To support this accelerated effort, Gates announced that the foundation is increasing its malaria program budget by 30 percent to more than $200 million per year. This is in addition to the foundation’s contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

“We must remain committed to the eradication of malaria,” Gates said. “Small steps won’t get the job done. History shows that the only way to stop malaria is to end it forever.”  He emphasized, however, that long-range efforts to achieve eradication must not distract donors and endemic countries from the immediate objective of “saving lives now.”

Gates noted that a shift toward the goal of eradication will require investments in a range of new tools, including a single-dose complete cure, more sophisticated diagnostics and a next-generation malaria vaccine. This shift will also require new strategies for existing tools, such as greater precision in deploying preventive interventions like bed nets.

Gates said that growing resistance to effective malaria drugs in Southeast Asia is a warning. “The only way to stay ahead of the natural evolution of infectious diseases is to stay fully invested in the R&D pipeline for new drugs, new vaccines, new diagnostics and innovative approaches to vector control,” he said.

The more than $500 million in foundation grants announced today includes several major commitments to develop new tools and strategies to accelerate progress toward malaria eradication. These include:


Grants to reduce the global burden of enteric and diarrheal diseases include:

  • $49 million to PATH to develop new vaccines and combinations of vaccines targeting leading bacterial causes of diarrhea (ETEC and Shigella); and
  • $18 million in process to the University of Maryland, Baltimore, for studies in Mali, Kenya and Gambia on the impact of rotavirus vaccines on child health.                        

Grants to control, eliminate or eradicate an array of neglected infectious diseases include:

  • $60 million to the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative to develop safe, effective, affordable and easy-to-use treatments for filarial diseases (onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis), human African trypanosomiasis, and visceral leishmaniasis.
Grants to develop effective, affordable vaccines for common causes of childhood pneumonia and improve access to pneumonia diagnosis include:
  • $3 million to Wits RHI to strengthen the evidence base for providing influenza vaccines to pregnant women in South Africa to protect their infants from the disease.

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.


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