‘Challenge’ to keep global focus on global health post-Covid-19: Bill Gates

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Bill Gates, co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, speaks at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

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LONDON, Sept 13 (Reuters) – Demands to prioritize saving lives in the world’s poorest countries are being challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, the threat of climate change, rising energy costs and the war in Ukraine, according to Bill Gates.

Funding to fight diseases such as malaria and AIDS could be cut this year after a global health scare, the philanthropist-appointed founder of Microsoft said.

“I’m very concerned … that the level of funding could actually be reduced, in a way that’s incredibly clear why infectious disease is not a thing of the past,” Gates told Reuters in an interview last week.

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It came ahead of the publication of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s annual Goalkeepers Report, which tracks progress on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in reducing poverty and improving health.

According to the report, the epidemic knocks the world on all indicators, and in 2018 In order to reach the goals set by 2030 on issues such as reducing maternal mortality or malnutrition, growth must accelerate fivefold.

“It’s hard to overestimate how much the epidemic is a hindrance and how much the war in Ukraine is a setback,” said Gates, who pointed out that global health is improving in most areas ahead of 2019.

“Saving lives in Africa and caring for the poorest countries, it’s fair to say that we are challenged to keep that as a priority and not reduce those things,” he said.

Gates has pumped more than his own money into the foundation this year, increasing its annual budget from $6 billion to $9 billion by 2026, but said he was concerned about competing pressures on donor governments’ budgets.

However, Gates says there is still hope if the world invests in innovation, especially in areas such as food security.

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Reporting by Jennifer Rigby; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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