Washington Post Examines Gates Foundation's Approach to Funding Global Health Programs, Including HIV/AIDS Vaccine Development
July 24, 2006
The Washington Post on Sunday examined how the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation "avoid[s] the broad-based approach of traditional aid programs ... in favor of the development of potentially powerful new vaccines and drugs targeting the leading maladies in the poorest parts of the world," such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria (Timberg, Washington Post, 7/23). The Gates Foundation last week announced 16 grants totaling $287 million to fund the development of an HIV vaccine. The grants, which will be distributed over five years to 16 scientific teams in 19 countries, aim to create an international network to find a vaccine by pooling resources and fostering collaboration on efforts worldwide (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/20). According to Melinda Gates, the foundation has not provided a great deal of funding for antiretroviral drug supply and delivery because their high cost means that only governments can afford to provide them. "Our role has to be a catalyst to get government funding into programs," Gates said, adding, "We don't begin to have enough money to (buy) antiretrovirals for every person who needs them today in Africa." The foundation instead has a "striking faith in the transformative power of new technologies," according to the Post. Mary Moran, who in 2005 co-authored a report by the London School of Economics and Political Science on the development of treatments for diseases endemic in developing countries, said funding from the Gates Foundation has brought new energy into the field and is likely to lead to six or seven major new drugs for TB and malaria by 2010. However, by not becoming involved in the complexities of providing public health care in Africa, the foundation could restrict its ability to improve the health of people in the developing world, according to Moran. Eric Goemaere of Medecins Sans Frontieres said the Gates Foundation should focus on solving pressing problems, such as the mass migration of health care workers to developed countries, rather than concentrating mainly on research that will not yield results for many years (Washington Post, 7/23).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.