Bill Gates Optimistic About Obama's Efforts to Tackle Global Health Issues

by Thilaka Ravi on Nov 6 2008 6:07 PM

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corp. and the champion of global health issues like AIDS, said he hoped the US President-elect Barack Obama would be able to deliver on Washington's healthcare commitments.

Gates, who is on a visit to New Delhi, was optimistic about Obama's efforts to tackle global health issues, saying he has "shown a lot of interest" and would "drive improvements in those areas".

Denying resource crunch due to the financial turbulence and its fallout on the global economy, Gates said on Wednesday that there might be some economic contraction before the United States gets back to growth, but he hoped the generosity of the US Government in participating in health issues would continue.

"Both candidates made strong commitments to increase the spending of the US government on health. For example the global funding of the US to polio," Gates told a news conference.

"I am hopeful that even with a challenging budget in the United States, the commitment to increase the spending on health comes out the way it is predicted," said Gates.

"I hope Barack Obama will be able to deliver on those priorities. He has shown a lot of interest in these issues and hopefully the US will be an even stronger partner of India and other countries in providing resources," added Gates.

Gates is on a visit to India on behalf of his charitable foundation to tackle health issues, focusing on polio eradication and fighting HIV/AIDS.

After meeting with health officials and polio experts, Gates said he was confident that polio can be successfully eradicated with India leading the way.

Gates called for an increased government spending on health and urged health officials to consider using innovative approaches such as injection vaccines to tackle the crippling disease.

A world effort to beat polio has succeeded in slashing the number of cases by 99 per cent over the past two decades, but the disease is still endemic in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed more than 17 billion dollars in grants since it began in 1994, and has given hundreds of millions of dollars in a global campaign to eradicate polio.