“It’s not right” for us to be a key global health fund – Gates CEO

LONDON, Jan 17 (Reuters) – It’s not right that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has played a major role in global health funding, but the group won’t back down until others step up, its chief executive said.

The Gates Foundation has faced criticism for having too much power and influence over global health, including within the World Health Organization, without the necessary accountability.

CEO Mark Suzman hit back at the criticism in an annual letter released on Tuesday, saying the foundation will spend $8.3 billion this year.

“It is not right for a private philanthropist to be one of the biggest funders of global health efforts,” he said, adding that countries should take the lead.

“But make no mistake – when there’s a solution that improves lives and saves lives, we’re constantly advocating for it. Along with our financial commitments, we’ll never stop using our influence to find solutions.”

According to Suzman, the purpose of the fund is not to set the agenda of the WHO or other global health groups, but to provide better options and information when making key decisions.

Melinda Gates, the tech billionaire who founded the foundation, has defended its efforts amid claims that the high payouts have undue influence and impact on global development.

Along with funding efforts to eradicate diseases such as malaria and polio, the Gates Foundation is the second-largest donor to the World Health Organization, one of the issues critics regularly raise about its role, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I wish more governments would put us on this list — because that means more lives will be saved,” Suzman wrote.

Last year, WHO member states agreed to a deal that would increase guaranteed contributions, reduce the role of private donors and give the UN more flexibility in spending.

Reporting by Jennifer Rigby Editing by Mark Heinrich

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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