Bill & Melinda Gates foundation has offered an additional USD 7 billion to African countries to promote health and agricultural sectors in the continent.
Billionaire Bill Gates who is currently ranked among the top richest man on earth was on his first trip to Africa and Kenya in particular since the COVID 19 pandemic broke out two years ago said the foundation was set to spend more than USD 7 billion in the next four years to buttress the sectors
Speaking to press on Thursday evening after a round table session with University of Nairobi students, the philanthropist said that the new commitment to African would run concurrently with ongoing projects the foundation was funding.
The commitment comes as the world grapples with overlapping global crisis characterized by hunger due to prolonged drought, malnutrition and poverty among millions in the continent.
“The big global challenges we face are persistent, but we have to remember so are the people solving them. Our foundation will continue to support solutions in health, agriculture and other critical areas and the systems to get them out of the labs and to the people who need them”, Gates said.
His offer comes at a time when at least 278 million people across Africa suffer from chronic hunger with more than 37 million others on the verge of starvation in the horn of Africa alone.
Melinda French Gates, the founder and co-chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said they will continue to invest in research, entrepreneurship, innovations and health care sectors to unlock the tremendous human potential that exists across the continent.
“Every day, men and women across Africa are rising to meet the biggest challenges facing their families, communities and countries”, she said.
The foundation is calling on global leaders to step up their commitments to finding solutions and strengthening systems in African countries which includes investing in people and innovations to save millions of lives and create opportunities for the world’s most vulnerable societies.
The foundation has been working with GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and malaria and the resources have helped in strengthening health systems and increasing access to health care in African countries contributing to dramatic reductions in maternal rates among children.
The Gates told more than 500 students in attendance during his session at the University that the youthful population in Africa had the potential and talent to exploit the available opportunity to accelerate ideas and programmes that could resolve the most pressing problems in the continent.
He said since the inception of the foundation, the support and partnerships with African governments has realized a milestone in driving the success in targeted interventions in the health , agricultural , equality and poverty alleviation initiatives.
Reports indicates that In the last two years, the foundation has funded partners to provide immediate and long term support to small holder farmers in sub Saharan Africa to promote production through an improve disease surveillance mechanism
In Kenya, the foundation has funded tools and technologies in Agriculture , health immunization , nutrition, sanitation, financial services , gender equity and equality initiatives and family planning programmes.
the foundation has posted positive progress in the country that has seen more than 81 percent vaccination coverage for diphtheria and brought down deaths resulting from Malaria to 52 per 1000 people down from 142 in 1990 and also enabled 83 percent of Kenyans gain access to financial services.
The Gates, who jetted into the country on Monday the 14th has spent time visiting primary health care institutions, leading medical and agricultural research institutions and smallholder farms to listen to and learn from Kenyan and regional partners about what programmes and approaches are making an impact.
Gates has also been keen in finding out the obstacles that remain and how the foundation can better support future progress.
By Wangari Ndirangu