Call for countries to donate billions of dollars to fight infectious diseases

25 Jan 19

Countries have been called on to donate billions of dollars of funding to an international not-for-profit to help it fight infectious diseases across the globe.

The Swiss-based not-for-profit World Economic Forum issued a press release after a session on health, at the international conference in Davos, which it organises and to which it gives its name.

The statement said the international financing organisation the Global Fund needs at least $14bn to $16bn to fund its next three years of work, including $1bn from the private sector. The global fund invests to fight diseases including AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

“The Sustainable Development Goal for Health aims to end AIDS, TB and malaria by 2030 – this will need new money from governments and the private sector,” the statement said. It will also need better use of innovation and data, it added.

The world has already made progress in fighting infectious diseases, with the number of children under 5 dying slashed from 12 million in 1990 to less than six million today, the statement pointed out. But “the funding needed to finish the job may shrink”.

Bill Gates, of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a charitable organisation, explained at the session on health at Davos that public funding could shrink if taxpayers were not made aware of the “successes” in fighting infectious diseases to date.

He said headlines focusing on money going to the wrong places, such as “training events that never took place”, is a challenge to retain public support.

“We don’t have broad voter [taxpayer] awareness that locks in the current levels of generosity,” he said.

The WEF also noted in its statement non-communicable diseases were increasingly becoming a challenge to countries all over the world.  

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom told the audience at the session: “Our central strategy should be to address risky behaviour [leading to noncommunicable diseases] by investing in public healthcare.”

He believed political commitment was more important than money. The United Kingdom, for example, started the National Health Service at a time when the post-war economy was “in a shambles”.

The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos brings together more than 3,000 global leaders from politics, government, civil society, academia and businesses.

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