Gates charity to make healthy contribution

Health projects in the Middle East, Pakistan and Central Asia are to benefit after a charity meeting.

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ABU DHABI // Health projects in the Middle East, Pakistan and Central Asia are to benefit after a meeting yesterday between representatives of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Khalifa bin Zayed Charitable Foundation in the capital. The Gates foundation will train the Abu Dhabi-based charity's staff to provide health care on a number of fronts, WAM, the official state news agency, reported.

The announcement came after the two charities discussed a number of proposed projects to improve public health and agreed to draw up a partnership plan. The Gates foundation works around the world providing funding for research into new vaccines and partnering with other organisations to improve health in developing countries. Its projects focus on diseases including tuberculosis, HIV/Aids, malaria and polio. The foundation provides about 17 per cent of the world's budget to fight polio.

The Seattle-based charity, which was started by Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, is one of the largest charitable funds in the world. The US$800 million (Dh2.93 billion) the foundation gives each year toward global health approaches the annual budget of the World Health Organisation. The collaboration is a result of direct efforts by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, the Minister for Presidential Affairs and board chairman of the Khalifa bin Zayed Charitable Foundation. He has stressed the importance of building strategic partnerships with other international organisations who have experience in humanitarian issues, WAM said, quoting Mohammed Haji al Khoory, executive director of the Khalifa bin Zayed Foundation.

The US charity was started by Mr Gates and his wife Melinda in 2000 with an initial endowment of US$126m, which grew to almost US$2bn in its first two years. In 2006, Warren Buffett, the world's richest man, pledged the charity shares then worth US$30bn, spread over annual contributions. As of last year, the foundation has an endowment of approximately US$39bn. The charity also works on microfinance loans and agricultural projects and provides grants for US libraries and education institutions.