Tag Archives: Bill Gates

2014 Gates Foundation Annual Letter

As most of you probably know, last week the Gates Foundation released their Annual Letter addressing three myths that Bill and Melinda Gates believe are blocking progress for poor people all over the world. Previous letters focused on the Foundation’s annual activities, so it’s quite a change that this year’s letter cites examples and data from around the world to disprove the following:

Myth 1: Poor countries are doomed to stay poor
Myth 2: Foreign aid is a big waste
Myth 3: Saving lives leads to overpopulation

Overall the letter is a very optimistic one, painting a bright picture of the future for the world’s poor and sick. It includes a combination of videos, infographics, and a lot of quotables which I’m sure we’ll see in other places. If you haven’t had a chance to read through it yet, I encourage you to take some time to do so. It’s worth it.

In terms of global health and development, it’s easy for us to lose perspective on how much progress is actually being achieved and for that reason I can appreciate the optimism in the letter. However, I see the letter as more of a cautionary piece or call to action, warning people against believing all the “bad” development news in the media. I don’t think it will truly dispel any of these myths, but it’s done a good job of raising interesting questions, starting conversations, causing controversy, and spurring critical discussions around the three myths and their related topics. In fact, the letter has resulted in a lot of global health professionals and others sharing their opinions online so join the conversation by reading the letter, watching the series of short videos here, and posting your reactions and comments below.

Side note 1: For those who are interested, Bill Gates went on Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel last week to talk about the letter.

Side note 2: Bill Nye the Science Guy is featured in one of the videos that focuses specifically on global health and child mortality and two members of the cast of the MythBusters TV show are featured in another video

Bill Gates: Global health dictator or just raging hypocrite?

This was cross-posted on my new professional, self-titled blog.

A few years ago, I wrote a piece about Bill Gates in response to an article in Alliance magazine, by global health pundits Laura Freschi and Alanna Shaikh, which argued that Bill Gates had become a “global health dictator” because of the amount of power and influence that his vast wealth gave him in setting global health and development priorities. I took the opposite opinion – that a man is free to do with his wealth as he pleases, and we shouldn’t shoulder him with the responsibility of setting the entire global health agenda just because he has the wealth to fund most of it.

I stand by what I said, but it now appears that potentially more sinister side of Bill Gates and Microsoft is in the spotlight for commentary: dodging taxes. In an editorial in the Guardian, Ian Birrell juxtaposes Gates’s “aid gospel” with the fact that Microsoft, on whose board he still sits, goes to great lengths to avoid paying billions of dollars of taxes.

He made his name as a sharp-elbowed businessman who rode the technology revolution with such style. But these days he is far more famous for his philanthropy, as a saviour of the poor who has made it his life’s mission to change the world for the better. So it was something of a shock to see he is still the richest person on the planet, boosting his fortune by another £9.6bn last year to an astonishing £48bn after a big rise in the Microsoft share price.

Clearly, he relishes his latest role, becoming increasingly influential and outspoken. He loves to lecture nations on how they should give away more of their taxpayers’ money, urging them to hit the arbitrary and anachronistic target of handing over 0.7% of gross national income in foreign aid. He has applauded David Cameron for Britain’s embrace of the target, even condemning a Lords’ committee that criticised this cash cascade, while constantly telling other countries to do the same.

But like those other aid apostles Bono and Bob Geldof, he risks being perceived as a rank hypocrite. For he sees nothing wrong in complex tax avoidance schemes while telling nations how to spend their revenues, notwithstanding the growing body of opinion that aid undermines development and democracy by propping up poorly run regimes. The latest expert to highlight this “aid illusion” is Professor Angus Deaton, the leading expert on measuring global poverty and a former true believer, in his fine book The Great Escape.

It seems a given that Gates will be a controversial figure – obscenely wealthy people almost always are – but he has made a name for himself in the last decade

Public health dictator and tax dodger. Photo credit: World Economic Forum.

Public health dictator and tax dodger.
Photo credit: World Economic Forum.

as a tireless advocate for combating disease, developing sustainable agriculture, and advancing technological solutions to problems of poverty. He spent most of 2011 pushing his Giving Pledge with Warren Buffett, an attempt to persuade the wealthy of the world to donate half of their fortune to charitable causes. He is an almost guaranteed presence at big-name aid conferences and confabs, and now he and his wife are almost considered experts in their pet project areas – vaccination campaigns and green agriculture for Bill, and family planning for Melinda.

With such high visibility, it is highly discouraging to learn just how extensive Microsoft’s tax-dodging practices are:

Moving earnings through low corporation tax countries such as Ireland, Luxembourg and Singapore means the company saved itself, according to one estimate, almost £3bn annually in tax. A Harvard law professor pointed out that Microsoft’s divisions in three low-tax nations employed fewer than 2,000 people, but supposedly recorded about £9.4bn of pre-tax profit in 2011 – more than the 88,000 employees working in all its other global divisions.

In Britain, Microsoft reported revenues of £1.7bn in a single year for online sales on which it paid no corporation tax. This is why if you look at the small print when buying software through its British website, you find you are dealing with a Luxembourg offshoot. A newspaper investigation found a small office there with just six staff handling online sales from around Europe.

It is well-documented that the shuffle of corporate profits through tax havens hurts those in poverty by sheltering tax revenue that would go toward food aid, education, and medicine. What kind of aid champion does that make Bill Gates, if his own company circumvents tax responsibility totaling 3% of the global aid budget?

I still maintain that “global health dictator” is not the right label for Mr. Gates, but perhaps Ian Birrell is right – maybe “hypocrite” fits better.

Global Health Weekly News Round-up

Politics and Policies:

  • U.S. Court rules controversial stem cell research as legal.
  • U.S. Court ruled that cigarette companies do not need to show graphic warning images.
  • The Food and Drug Administration U.S. (FDA) Department of Health is enforcing stricter inspection of food imported from Japan since March 14 last year in response to the radiation leak incident at Fukushima nuclear power plant.
  • UK government wants hospitals to expand overseas.
  • UK government will spend £2m to tackle cholera epidemic in Sierra Leone.

Programs:

  • Nigeria receives U.S. $225million from Global Fund to prevent and treat malaria.
  • Bill Gates has launched a search of a new toilet suited for developing countries- to avoid deaths and diseases due to poor living conditions.
  • Vietnam puts locally-made medical waste incinerator into operation. It has a capacity of 30-50 kilos of medical waste per hour.
  • Planned Parenthood launches new initiative in U.S. to fight breast cancer. It will use $3 million donations for its breast health initiative- screenings and education.

 Research:

  • Researchers at National Institutes of Health have identified rare immune disease in Asian people like HIV. This disease has been named as adult-onset immunodeficiency syndrome.
  • Scientists have created a drug using eggs of a pig parasite to treat chronic debilitating conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.
  • Researchers from the Stanford University have collaborated to synthesize and study grid-like array of short pieces of a disease-associated protein on silicon chips to identify patients with a particularly severe form of autoimmune disease lupus.
  • According to a study blood type of a person can determine his/ chances of getting a disease.
  • Scientists say that the children born to older men are at a greater risk of genetic disorders.
  • According to a study thiabendazole a common antifungal drug decreases tumor growth and also a potential medicine in cancer therapy.
  • In a new study scientists said that a three year old can easily find whether you are whining or upset.
  • In a recent research scientists did some laboratory tests which showed that within five hours of application of extracts from a plant known as virgin’s mantle (medicinal tea) growth of cancer cells was arrested and they died within 24 hours.
  • According to some scientists chemicals in lipsticks, toothpastes and face washes might cause heart and muscle problems.
  • Researchers at University of Pennsylvania are using nanofibers to develop biomaterials.
  • Scientists have learned to harness power from bacteria eating virus.
  • According to a research aging heart cells can be rejuvenated by modified stem cell therapy.
  • According to a team of Israeli scientists smoking can prevent progress of degenerative disease (- Parkinson’s).
  • A national study done in Australia is attempting new ways for the treatment of melanoma. It will map all common gene mutations.
  • Researchers in Melbourne find key to rare diseases which cause birth defects like DiGeorge syndrome.
  • According to the scientists ovarian cancer patients should improve their lifestyle to improve their survival rates and quality of life.
  • Researchers have found that stones in gall bladder in teens are due their overweight problem.
  • In a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), the villagers of Amazon have antibodies to rabies which suggests that disease may not be 100% fatal.

Diseases & Disasters:

  •  Cholera epidemic spreads through coastal slums of West Africa. Contagious disease has killed hundreds of people.
  • Refinery explosion in Venezuela on Saturday killed 24 people and injured many.
  • Tropical Storm Isaac hits Haiti, killing 3 people. South Florida on alert.
  • Ebola outbreak in Congo related to contact with infected individuals and consumption of bushmeat.
  • Record spike in West Nile virus cases in U.S.
  • Rs. 1 billion uncertified medicine scam unearthed in Sindh. These uncertified medicines were not certified by the central or potential drug laboratories they were potential danger to lives of people.
  • Uncollected garbage on the streets of Metro Manila has concerned agencies as a potential source of outbreak of diseases.
  • Swine flu cases have been confirmed in Lucknow, India.
  • Floods in India and Pakistan have killed dozens of people.
  • Japan nuclear plant leakage caused mutation in butterflies though no such reports for humans.

Webcast: Uniting to Combat NTDs

Please tune in for a special webcast featuring Bill Gates, Margaret Chan, Stephen O’Brien, pharmaceutical industry CEOs and other partners on:

Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases
Ending the Neglect and Reaching 2020 Goals

Webcast will go live Monday, January 30, 6:00 a.m. EST at http://www.unitingtocombatntds.org.
An archived video will be available after the event for on-demand viewing.

Join a group of international partners for an event that demonstrates how innovative partnership can accelerate improvements in health and development for millions of people living in the world’s poorest countries.

Through a series of coordinated commitments, these partners aim to combat neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and drive progress toward the World Health Organization’s goals for control or elimination by 2020.

The event will feature:

· Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization
· CEOs of Nine Leading Pharmaceutical Companies
· Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
· Senior Government Officials from Tanzania, Mozambique, Brazil and Zanzibar
· Stephen O’Brien, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, UK Department for International Development
· Dr. Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative
· Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez, Assistant Administrator for Global Health, US Agency for International Development
· Dr. Caroline Anstey, Managing Director, World Bank
· Moderated by: Riz Khan, Al Jazeera English

All Kinds of Belated News (Week of September 18-24)

SECTION NEWS

The Fall 2011 Newsletter has been posted!  Be sure to check out recent announcements, section updates, links to recent blog entries, and lots of fellowship opportunities!

The Advocacy/Policy Committee would like to invite you to participate in our first Advocacy Day, led in partnership with the Global Health Council. The day, scheduled for Thursday, November 3rd, 2011, immediately following the annual meeting in Washington, D.C., will be an opportunity for us to voice support for a continued focus on international health to our elected officials. With the intense Congressional pressure to cut the budget, our voices can make a real difference. As a participant during this exciting day, you will be provided with training materials on effective advocacy techniques to ensure your message is clearly heard. Even if you do not have advocacy experience, you need not hesitate to sign up because you will be teamed with others. Please consider joining your fellow International Health Section members on Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 on Capitol Hill to advocate for a healthy globe. Interested parties should register here. Please note that registration will close on October 14th. Any questions should be directed to Peter Freeman, Advocacy/Policy Committee Chair, at pffreeman@gmail.com or 773.318.4842.


The G+ Vaccines Challenge has been launched!  G+, a new online community launched by Gerson Lehrman Group, has partnered with IndieGoGo and StartUp Health to solicit early stage ideas for tackling problems and inefficiencies in vaccine delivery  in-the-field, distribution and development. Finalists will have the unique opportunity to present their ideas to a panel of investment, NGO and corporate and life sciences professionals with the influence to advance those ideas towards realization.  You can find more information about the challenge here.

APHA NEWS

Dr. Benjamin is currently on a teaching sabbatical at Hunter College in NYC. Alan Baker (former Chief of Staff at APHA) returned to serve as Acting Executive
Director in the interim.

UN HIGH-LEVEL MEETING ON NCDs

  • The UN held its first-ever meeting on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.  Global health journalist Tom Paulson provided some great coverage of the event on the Humanosphere blog.
  • World leaders unanimously adopted the NCD Summit Outcome Document at the General Assembly in New York.
  • On the sidelines of the General Assembly meeting in New York, the United States and WHO signed a memorandum of understanding to help developing countries boost capacity to meet the International Health Regulations.
  • The cost for the developing world to address NCDs, based on the WHO’s recommendation to increase budgets by 4%, will be $11.4 billion.

POLITICS AND POLICY

Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates appears poised to endorse the adoption of a controversial financial transactions tax (FTT) to be used as a new source of development aid for poor countries.

PROGRAMS

  • The multibillion dollar Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria must do a better job managing its grants to partner countries, according to an independent review panel.  A seven member panel investigating the Global Fund has recommended that it place greater emphasis on results and improve risk management.  In the Center for Global Development blog, William Savedoff is concerned that the new report suggesting changes for the Global Fund will move it away from innovating.
  • USAID has announced that it will be giving a $200 million grant to the Public Health Institute to support its global health fellows program.
  • Private and public actors have lined up to support Every Woman Every Child and its goal of preventing 33 million unwanted pregnancies.

RESEARCH

Researchers at the 51st Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in Chicago announced that they were able to reduce the level of HIV in infected people through cell-based therapy.

DISEASES AND DISASTERS

  • The privacy curtains that separate care spaces in hospitals and clinics are frequently contaminated with potentially dangerous bacteria, according to a U.S. study.
  • If today’s momentum and progress against malaria can be sustained, deaths from this infectious disease could be reduced to near-zero, and cases of infection cut by 75 per cent in the next decade, says a recent report by the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership.
  • Depression may go hand in hand with a number of other physical health problems, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Now the latest evidence suggests that depression may also increase the risk of stroke.
  • Polio has spread to China for the first time since 1999 after being imported from Pakistan, the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed.

TOTALLY UNRELATED TO ANYTHING: Melinda Gates is now on Twitter!

Public Health’s “Benevolent Dictator”: Is Gates ruling us, or are we just ruled by money?

Last week, Laura Freschi and Alanna Shaikh published a piece in Alliance magazine that raised some interesting and thought-provoking question about the role of the Gates Foundation in setting the global health agenda.  They conclude that Gates is becoming a “public health dictator” because of his financial resources and the power and influence that come as a result.  They are, of course, not the first to complain about Gates’s focus on technological solutions to global health challenges.  Some of the most recent grumblings were in response to the Foundation’s “reinvent the toilet” campaign this year, but similar concerns have been voiced for years.  The Foundation places too much emphasis on technological innovation and “quick fixes”; their undue influence diverts funding from other priorities; their goals are not realistic.  These are all valid concerns which deserve to be voiced (heck, we have already written about it here), particularly in a field where nearly everyone has a different opinion on how problems should be solved.

But a dictator?

Bill Gates.
A dictator? Nah. Look at that face.
The Gates Foundation is directed by the priorities of Bill Gates, an entrepreneur who made obscenely large piles of money and who now wants to use some of it to make the world better.  Those piles are accomplishing just that by funding the initiatives that he likes, thinks are important, and/or believes will work.  After all, Gates made his money through technological innovations, so it is perfectly logical that the same types of ideas would be close to his heart – and, to be fair, it is his money.  It is also fair to criticize those initiatives, particularly if the interventions are ineffective or do more harm than good.

But now pundits are demanding accountability from the Foundation, calling on it to justify what it does:

If expensive polio and malaria eradication efforts, pursued not just by Gates but by the entire global health community at Gates’ urging, fail, to whom will
Gates be accountable for that failure?

We demand accountability from our governments because they spend our money – we have the right to demand that our tax dollars be used effectively.  But why, exactly, should Gates be accountable to anyone for wasting his own money?  More importantly, why would the “entire global health community” do something just because he told us to?

Dictators are people who arbitrarily enforce laws, throw people in jail for criticizing them, and deny their citizens free and fair elections.  Gates does not punish anyone whose global health solutions don’t appeal to him – he just doesn’t give them money.  He never lead any kind of “global health coup” or insist that we all adhere to his development philosophy.  Yes, the Foundation has lots of money, and would-be philanthropist who wants to launch his NGO would treat Gates like a god if he ever saw him on the street – but that is precisely the point: he has undue influence because we give it to him.  To paint Gates as a “global health dictator” because causes are prioritized based on what will get Gates Foundation funding villifies the wrong party.  What does it say about us as a body of professionals if we allow ourselves to be led by the nose by the guy with the most money?

The Economist raised another interesting point when it examined the same debate back in 2008:

At least in part, the gripes against the Gates Foundation are the churlish growls of a jealous crowd of bureaucrats and labourers at less influential charities. Some people at the WHO…openly worry that the foundation is setting up a new power centre that may rival their organisation’s authority. Such conspiracy theorists point to the foundation’s recent grant of over $100m to the University of Washington to evaluate health treatments and monitor national health systems—jobs supposed to be done by the UN agency.

Therein lies an irony. The WHO, one of whose captains now calls the Gates Foundation monopolistic, used itself to hold a monopoly in the fight against malaria, and it did a lousy job as a result.

I do think Shaikh and Freschi (and also Tom Paulson of Humanosphere) are on to something when they question the Foundation’s giving money to media organizations to increase coverage of global health topics.

Among the grantees is a growing list of media outlets including the Guardian newspaper (UK), ABC, PBS and the BBC – all to underwrite coverage of global health issues. While these grants all came with assurances of editorial independence, it’s hard to believe that such partnerships won’t influence the nature of the coverage in some way.

Even if it is objective, it never looks good when you fund your own media coverage.  Somebody probably should have thought that one through.

At any rate, the debate about what Gates is doing (and what he should be doing) with his money will undoubtedly rage for as long as he has money.  But if we believe that the Gates Foundation is distorting global health priorities because of its purchasing power, then we need to take a long, hard look at how we define our priorities.

Global Health News Last Week

May 18 was HIV Vaccine Awareness Day.

POLITICS AND POLICY

  • Hundreds of Kenyan AIDS activists held a protest on 18 May in the capital, Nairobi to demand that the government meet its commitment to increase annual health and HIV funding.
  • In response to the mutual expulsion of diplomats, the UK’s DFID announced that it has frozen new aid to Malawi.
  • DDT has made a controversial re-appearance in Uganda.

PROGRAMS

RESEARCH

  • The World Health Organization has just launched a new web-based information resource tool that should be of interest to many in global health and development community, the Global Health Observatory.
  • According to the World Health Organization, the worldwide prevalence of obesity has more than doubled between 1980 and 2008.
  • New research has found that a variant in one gene can lead to a 30 percent lower risk of developing cerebral malaria.
  • A new study from Bangladesh concludes that most of the world’s pregnant women don’t need vitamin A supplements.
  • American scientists have tested a treatment regimen for tuberculosis which will reduce the amount of time it takes to complete the full treatment as compared to current plans.
  • A new report from the Guttmacher Institute finds that that 7 in 10 women in Sub Saharan Africa, south central Asia and south east Asia who want to avoid pregnancy, but are not using modern methods give reasons for non-use which suggest available methods do not fulfill their needs.
  • Average life expectancy across much of the world — except Iraq and South Africa — is steadily climbing and infant deaths dropped across the world during the first decade of the 21st century, according to figures released by the World Health Organization.
  • The Clinton Health Access Initiative and Gates Foundation have teamed up to support research into developing a cheaper version of the drug Tenofovir.

DISEASES AND DISASTERS

  • China has reduced its AIDS mortality by two-thirds since it began distributing free antiretroviral drugs in 2002; however, the improvements were seen largely in patients who acquired HIV through blood transfusion, rather than through sex or drug use. On a darker note, Chinese authorities ordered an AIDS activists’ web site shut down after it had published an open letter from a retired senior official concerning news restrictions placed on a 20th-century public health scandal.
  • Dr. Orin Levine looks at a disturbing global trend: Infectious killers that had been beaten back by aggressive immunization efforts are making a comeback in places long thought to be safe havens.

WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY

The IH Blog was featured in the “Buzzing in the Blogs” section of the Healthy Dose this week! Thanks to Tom Murphy for reading and tweeting us!

There is No Silver Bullet

There is no silver bullet and frankly you probably don’t need one. It is far more important to be able to find the right kind of gun, be able to load the gun, be able to aim the gun, and perhaps most importantly, be able to figure out where the werewolf is.Matthew Oliphant

Vampire Selene uses bullets with silver nitrate to fight off werewolves in "Underworld." Unfortunately, we do not have "silver nitrate bullets" for global health problems.

I always scratch my head a bit when the global health community is dismayed at the revelation that one of its previously hailed “silver bullets” is revealed to not be the miracle cure it was thought to be. The latest disappointment making its way across the blogosphere right now is microfinance: after shady lending practices and harassment of borrowers (driving some to suicide) were uncovered on the part of commercial microlenders in India, the development community began wringing its hands at the unfolding political scandal. The forced retirement of Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, Nobel laureate, and pioneer of the microfinance institution, looks like the proverbial nail in the coffin of microfinance’s status as the one-stop solution for ending poverty. Now experts are holding panel discussions to debate whether or not microfinance “works.”

This is not the first time we have found ourselves crestfallen at the failure of a silver bullet. When evaluating the results of his “Grand Challenges in Global Health,” Bill Gates admitted that the organization had been “naïve” in its expectations of breakthroughs in vaccine development. He underestimated the time it takes to move new products from the lab through clinical trials and manufacturing. “I thought some would be saving lives by now,” he said, “and it’ll be more like in 10 years from now.” Tell me about it: I worked for a biotechnology start-up in college, and the time it took to get approval for phase I clinical trials allowed bad management to completely unravel the company – it took less than five years. By the time we got the green light from the FDA, the company was being bought out, and we never got to test the product.

Many are also astounded at the current descent from grace of Greg Mortenson, of Three Cups of Tea fame. Details of his inspiring Quixote-esque story of building schools for girls in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan are now being questioned, and donors are appalled at reports of mismanaged funds and schools being used as storage sheds. But don’t we already know that graft happens, and rookies make (sometimes colossal) mistakes? How reasonable was it to expect the Central Asia Institute, Mortenson’s charity, to “fix” Afghanistan by building schools? On the other hand, why are countries and large-scale donors pulling funding and creating a fuss over the graft that the Global Fund revealed through its own investigations?

Why are we continually disillusioned when the simple solutions to the complex problems of global health and poverty turn out to not be so simple? Part of the problem is marketing. Saundra Schimmelpfennig, who has made it her mission to point out and tackle issues surrounding charity (mis)representation and shady fundraising practices, points out that

Whether it’s TOMS A Day Without Shoes or CAI’s Pennies for Peace, schools and teachers are using what are essentially commercials for a charitable product to teach children about the larger world and philanthropy. As is the case with most commercials, these “awareness raising activities” often distort or over-simplify the problems faced in ways that benefit their own organization.

This is extremely worrying as the children brought up on these myths and misconceptions are going to turn into businessmen, philanthropists, and lawmakers. How will the decisions they make be impacted by a distorted view of what the world is like and how to really help?

Another part seems to be that despite each revelation, we are constantly drawn to the prospect that we will somehow still find that magic “something,” that the next innovation or big idea will be the much-sought-after silver bullet. Despite coming to terms with his naiveté, Gates is now saying that energy innovation is the key to beating climate change. Programmers are busily developing cell phone apps in the hope that cell phones can help end poverty.

The problems that we devote our careers to tackling are nowhere near simple, and it is unreasonable to expect to find simple solutions to them. Heck, we don’t even adequately fund the silver bullets we already have. As professionals more knowledgeable than me continually point out, our best bet is to strengthen health systems, focus on measurable improvements, admit and learn from failure, and – perhaps most importantly – have a little patience.

Global Health News Last Week

The PSI Healthy Lives Blog has begun running a daily global health news summary called “The Healthy Dose,” written by Mark Leon Goldberg and Tom Murphy (who also blogs about development at A View from the Cave).

STUDENTS AND YOUNG PROFESSIONALS: The Global Health Corps is currently accepting applications for its Global Health Fellows Program, which comes highly recommended by just about everyone I have heard mention it.

February 6 was International No Tolerance Day to Female Genital Mutilation.

The Vatican will host an international conference in May on preventing AIDS and caring for those afflicted with it amid continued confusion over its position concerning condoms as a way to prevent HIV transmission.

The Global Fund announced the launch of new anti-corruption measures after intense scrutiny from donors following stories on fraud investigations by The Associated Press. Meanwhile, debate and public controversy over the AP’s presentation of the story rages on.

The discovery of a new type of mosquito, a subgroup of Anopheles gambiae (the species which transmits malaria), is causing concern among scientists because it appears to be very susceptible to the malaria parasite.

Bill Gates is becoming frantic in his pursuit to eradicate polio. In addition to making it the cornerstone of his 2011 annual letter, he held a webcast event last week, campaigned for funds at Davos, and is needling governments to donate funds for a “final push.” He is also beginning to irk some, who say he is distorting other priorities.

Webcast: Polio Eradication and the Power of Vaccines (with Bill Gates)

Please tune in for a special webcast featuring Bill Gates, ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Oshinsky, and a panel of experts on:

Polio Eradication and the Power of Vaccines

Monday, January 31, 9:30 a.m. ET at www.gatesfoundation.org

To launch Bill Gates’ 3rd annual letter, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation invites you to join a conversation about the extraordinary progress in the fight to eradicate polio and the enormous lifesaving potential of vaccines.

Thanks to a global childhood immunization effort, polio has been reduced by 99% and we are on the cusp of eradicating only the second disease in history. This presents a powerful case for the value of vaccines.

Unique Perspectives
Bill Gates will join global leaders to discuss what the past can teach us about protecting children around the world from polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases. The event will be moderated by ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer, and speakers include:

Dr. David Oshinsky, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, “Polio: An American Story”
Professor Helen Rees, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa; and Chair, WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization
Dr. Ciro de Quadros, Executive Vice President, Sabin Vaccine Institute

Panelists will discuss why now is the time to rid the world of polio and ensure all children have access to lifesaving vaccines. No child deserves to face the threat of preventable disease, whether it’s polio, measles, or pneumonia.

To watch the live webcast, please visit www.gatesfoundation.org on Monday, January 31 at 9:30 a.m. ET. It will also be available on demand following the event.

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. Learn more at www.gatesfoundation.org.