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Gates' $168 Million to Fight Malaria

The Microsoft chairman announces the gift in Africa, which is hardest hit by the disease.

September 22, 2003|From Times Wire Services

MANHICA, Mozambique — The world's richest man donated $168 million to fight malaria Sunday and urged the world to intensify its battle against a disease that kills more than a million people a year, mainly in Africa.

"It's time to treat Africa's malaria epidemic like the crisis it is," said Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates during a visit to Mozambique. "Malaria is robbing Africa of its people and its potential. Beyond the extraordinary human toll, malaria is one of the greatest barriers to Africa's economic growth."

Malaria is the biggest killer in Africa after HIV/AIDS, claiming 3,000 children a day and costing the world's poorest continent about $12 billion a year in lost income. The grants from Gates and his foundation exceed the $100 million allocated globally for research on the disease and will be used to fund research on prevention, new vaccines and new drugs.

Even as Gates was announcing his bequest, the U.N. released a report indicating that funding to fight the other major scourge in Africa, AIDS, is lagging behind the need. More than 15 million Africans have died of the disease, and 30 million are living with HIV/AIDS.

According to the report by the group UNAIDS, international spending on AIDS in Africa has begun to accelerate; about $950 million was spent fighting the epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa in 2002, compared with $550 million spent in 2000.

Still, the 2002 amount was less than half the $2 billion needed for basic prevention and treatment services. By 2005 those needs are projected to grow to $5 billion, and an additional $1 billion will be needed for antiretroviral medicines, according to the report. Spending by that year is expected to total only $3 billion.

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