Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates announced Monday that his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will contribute $363 million over the next five years to the fight to stop neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) worldwide.
The foundation's donation comes as part of a $785 million coordinated push bringing together 13 pharmaceutical companies, the U.S., U.K. and U.A.E. governments, the World Bank and other global health organizations in the largest effort to stop neglected tropical diseases in world history, a release said.
In the largest coordinated effort yet to fight diseases such as Guinea worm disease, leprosy and sleeping sickness, the group promised to give away 14 billion doses of medicines by the end of this decade, Reuters reported.
The push is aimed at eliminating or controlling 10 neglected tropical diseases by the end of the decade, and will bring together efforts with some of the world's poorest countries, where such diseases are endemic. About 1.4 billion people--most of whom are among the poorest in the world--are affected by NTDs.
The effort, announced at an event at the Royal College of Physicians in London, will sustain or expand drug donation programs to meet demand through 2020, facilitate the sharing of experties and compounds to accelerate the creation of new drugs, and contribute $785 million to R&D efforts and strengthening distribution and implementation of neglected tropical disease medications.
Today, we have joined together to increase the impact of our investments and build on the tremendous progress made to date, Gates, co-chair of the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said. This innovative approach must serve as a model for solving other global development challenges and will help millions of people build self-sufficiency and overcome the need for aid.
World Health Organization director general Margaret Chan said the initiative changes the face of neglected tropical diseases, Reuters reported.
These ancient diseases are now being brought to their knees with stunning speed, Chan said at the London event. With the boost to this momentum being made today, I am confident almost all of these diseases can be eliminated or controlled by the end of this decade.