By Manash Pratim Bhuyan
New York, Sep 22 (PTI) The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced fresh financial assistance totalling USD 1.27 billion to address poverty and social inequalities at the end of its two-day event that saw the participation of over 300 young change-makers from across the globe.
The announcement on the financial commitment came over a week after the Foundation in its annual Goalkeepers report noted that nearly every indicator of the UN sustainable development goals are off track for achieving them by 2030.
Despite these challenges, the report highlighted opportunities to accelerate progress by investing in long-term solutions and innovative approaches to entrenched issues, including poverty, inequality, and climate change.
The Foundation said on Tuesday that the funding will address overlapping global crises that have reversed the progress already made toward achieving the UN sustainable development goals (Global Goals).
The two-day Goalkeepers event at the Lincoln Center in New York coincided with the annual session of the UN General Assembly.
"This week has underscored the urgency of the challenges we face, and the promise of sustainable solutions that save and improve lives," said Mark Suzman, Gates Foundation CEO.
"We can get back on track toward the SDGs, but it's going to take a new level of collaboration and investment from every sector. That's why our foundation is significantly stepping up our commitment to helping confront crises now and ensure long-term impact across critical determinants of health and development," he said.
The Goalkeepers event that concluded on Tuesday witnessed global leaders and changemakers discuss current and future efforts to achieve the Global Goals.
Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sanchez, Bill Gates, Melinda French Gates and more than 300 young changemakers and other emerging and established leaders from around the world participated in the event.
"The last time we gathered in person for Goalkeepers, we talked about how the most well-intentioned programs can perpetuate inequities if the communities they want to reach aren’t involved in the design," said Co-chair of the Foundation Melinda French Gates.
"A lot has changed since 2019, but one thing hasn't: We won't make progress toward the Global Goals unless those with lived experiences have a seat at the table. I am proud of our Goalkeepers Award winners and the many partners from all corners of the world who are working to develop this next generation of leaders," she said.
Also on Tuesday, at the Global Fund Replenishment Conference, governments and the private sector joined together to pledge a record-high level of commitment that will advance the goal of achieving good health and well-being for all.
The aid will go towards the Global Fund’s goal of saving 20 million more lives from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria; building more resilient health systems to prevent future pandemics; and putting the world back on track to end these diseases by 2030.
Today's pledge includes the Gates Foundation's largest commitment yet to the Global Fund of USD 912 million.
"We see the greatest progress when governments, the private sector, and local communities collaborate in global health programs," said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Foundation.
"The commitment this week to combat preventable diseases and save millions more lives through the Global Fund replenishment is a great step forward in getting back on track to reach the Sustainable Development Goals," he said.
In a statement, the Foundation said since 2002, health programmes supported by the Global Fund partnership have saved 50 million lives.
"This funding will help accelerate efforts to end HIV, TB, and malaria by 2030 and build resilient health systems needed to protect against future pandemics. It also will be instrumental in reducing the disproportionate impact of these diseases on women and girls," it said.
The Foundation said USD 100 million will be used to help alleviate the food crisis which is disproportionately impacting communities in Africa and South Asia, and address its underlying causes.
In addition, the Foundation said it will double its previous commitment to the Child Nutrition Fund -- from USD 10 million to USD 20 million.
"Our investment will support the fund’s expansion beyond ready-to-use therapeutic food to include preventative nutrition products for both women and children," it said.
It said USD 200 million will be spent to expand global digital public infrastructure.
"This funding will help expand infrastructure that low and middle-income countries can use to become more resilient to crises such as food shortages, public health threats, and climate change, as well as to aid in pandemic and economic recovery," the Foundation said.
"This infrastructure encompasses tools such as interoperable payment systems, digital ID, data-sharing systems, and civil registry databases," it said.
A USD 50 million would be for partners in the Health Scholarship Fund to attend the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE) in Rwanda, it said.
"This commitment will help catalyze efforts to raise USD 200 million. The scholarship fund will support students, 75 per cent of whom are women, to attend UGHE and help accelerate efforts to increase the number of health care workers in Rwanda and around the world," it added.
This PTI Correspondent was in New York at the invitation of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
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