x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Charity fights disease

The generosity of some of the world's most powerful men means that tropical diseases that affect millions could soon be a thing of the past.

Six years ago, Warren Buffett, then the world's second richest man with a fortune of almost $44 billion, announced that he would be giving away 85 per cent of his wealth. The beneficiary? The world's largest charity organisation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and indeed the entire world.

It is a well-known story how the Gates foundation has mobilised vast resources for the sake of humanity. Now we have an example that can be seen directly in lives saved. Mr Gates has convinced the heads of 13 of the world's biggest drugs companies to donate medicines and carry out joint research in an effort to eradicate tropical diseases that affect millions of the poorest people on the planet. Gates's foundation will be donating $363m, and on Monday UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed pledged $10m to the Jimmy Carter Center, which is part of this campaign to end Guinea worm disease by 2015.

Diseases like Guinea worm have been battled for decades, and yet remain a scourge to many in the second decade of 21st century. Now, hopefully, this horrific disease will finally be eliminated in the last country still suffering from it, South Sudan.

It is hoped that the Gates's venture is just the first of many innovative solutions that will help to rid the world of these treatable diseases. They will be doing it with help from influential friends.