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Gates Foundation invests $8.6bn to fund health innovations

by Haruna Gimba
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By Muhammad Amaan with agency report

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced its largest annual budget of $8.6 billion for 2024, a part of which will go towards advancing health innovations.

With global health budgets in decline overall, a portion of the additional funding will go towards advancing global health innovations that will save and improve lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people, including newborn babies and pregnant women living in low-income communities, it said.

The budget, which represents an increase of 4 per cent over last year and is a $2 billion increase over the 2021 budget, comes as global contributions to health in the lowest-income countries are stalling, the foundation announced here ahead of the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The foundation also committed to increasing its annual spending to $9 billion by 2026.

“We can’t talk about the future of humanity without talking about the future of health,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation.

“Every day, newborn babies and young children die simply because of where they were born. Mothers die giving birth, leaving families devastated. That keeps me up at night.

“It is unacceptable, particularly because we have already developed many of the solutions that could save their lives. Building a stronger, more stable world starts with good health,” he added.

Since its inception in 2000, the Gates Foundation has been focused on fighting the world’s greatest inequities, creating programmes that address issues such as gender equality, agricultural development, and public education.

A major focus for the foundation has been on reducing inequities in health by funding the development of new tools and strategies to reduce the burden of infectious diseases and the leading causes of child mortality in low-income countries.

“An investment in global health is an investment in our future. When the world puts money behind proven solutions, it builds stronger, healthier, and more resilient communities for generations to come,” said Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation.

“With low-income countries facing a whole host of challenges, now is the right time to recommit to saving lives and improving livelihoods,” she added.

Despite the phenomenal progress, millions of children in poor countries still die before their fifth birthday of preventable or treatable diseases, and nearly 300,000 women die in childbirth while the tools exist to prevent their deaths.

About 90 per cent of the 340,000 women who die every year of cervical cancer live in low and middle-income countries, even though there’s now a highly effective one-dose vaccine that can protect them against it.

At the foundation’s “The Future of Health” event at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, Bill Gates will showcase several health innovations that the foundation has funded and its partners have been developing to save lives of women and children.

He will also talk about the role that artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies can play in transforming health and improving lives of people living in low-income countries.

Gates will call on global leaders, philanthropists, CEOs, and others to help rebuild global trust and solidarity by joining together to save the most vulnerable people.

The foundation said that if innovations in the R&D pipeline are properly funded, they could help cut maternal deaths by 40 per cent in the lowest-income countries by the end of the decade, and further drive down preventable child deaths.

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