Gates Foundation awards $450 million in grants

The race to solve the world`s most pressing health problems through science and technology received a $250 million pledge yesterday from the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The latest amount brings to $450 million the Gates Foundation will award researchers to tackle 14 specific public-health challenges in developing countries - challenges ranging from the development of vaccines that need no refrigeration to creating a single staple crop to help alleviate malnutrition.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates announced the grant at the annual World Health Assembly in Geneva today. The Gates Foundation committed the initial $200 million in 2003 to its Grand Challenges in Global Health, an initiative to fight diseases that, while uncommon in rich nations, kills millions of people in poor countries. The foundation expects to award the first of the $450 million in grants late next month.

Gates said that science and technology can be harnessed to achieve more groundbreaking advances in global health over the next decade than in all of the past 50 years, reports the Seattle Times.

The &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Microsoft Corp creator`s foundation has contributed 4.1 blnusd to programmes tackling HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases over the past five years.

And Gates has openly admitted that he hopes others will match his latest initiative, publishes the Forbes.

However, campaigners and officials said today that high-profile international funds and campaigns, set up in recent years to stimulate official aid for health in developing countries, are still struggling.

Death rates are rising, despite targets to tackle health problems in poor countries set under the UN's Millennium Development Goals, due to epidemics in some areas, the UN health agency's director general, Lee Jong Wook, told the assembly.

"The translation of those goals into reality is still very far from completion and progress towards them is not reassuring," Lee said.

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