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Billionaire Philanthropist Bill Gates warns that World is ‘Vulnerable’ to Deadly Epidemic of diseases like Ebola and Zika

Bill Gates also raised concerns over growing antimicrobial resistance to drugs, saying the success of antibiotics had created complacency

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Businessman Bill Gates exits through the lobby at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, Dec. 13, 2016. (VOA)
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Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates warned on Friday that the world was vulnerable to a deadly epidemic of an illness like flu, with the recent Ebola and Zika outbreaks underlining weaknesses in global efforts to tackle health crises swiftly.

Gates, whose foundation invests in improving healthcare in developing countries, said the global emergency response system was not strong enough and the ability to create new drugs and vaccines quickly was lacking.

He added that there needed to be more focus on developing treatments for likely epidemics.

“I cross my fingers all the time that some epidemic like a big flu doesn’t come along in the next 10 years,” Microsoft Corp founder Gates told Britain’s BBC radio.

“I do think we will have much better medical tools, much better response, but we are a bit vulnerable right now if something spread very quickly, like a flu, that was quite fatal.”

But Gates defended the World Health Organization (WHO) over widespread criticism of its handling of the 2014 Ebola crisis that killed thousands in west Africa, saying the agency was neither funded, nor staffed, to meet all the expectations.

He also raised concerns over growing antimicrobial resistance to drugs, saying the success of antibiotics had created complacency.

The misuse and overuse of antibiotics is accelerating antimicrobial resistance which is already complicating efforts to treat tuberculosis, HIV and malaria.

Gates said richer countries must help developing nations tackle disease, both for humanitarian reasons and for their own self-interest.

He said international co-operation had almost succeeded in wiping out polio which remains endemic only in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

If there are no new cases in the next three years polio will become the second human disease to be eradicated after smallpox in 1980.

“We’re very close. Hopefully, the last case will be some time next year,” Gates said.(VOA)

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  • Ranger

    How does a philanthropist keep getting richer and richer? Bill Gates 73 Billion in 2015 @ 100 Billion in 2016

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Vitamin C helps in treating Tuberculosis

Taken in diet with medication, it will enhance treatment

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TB is the leading killer of HIV-infected people. In South Africa, 73% of TB patients are HIV positive. Pixabay
TB is the leading killer of HIV-infected people. In South Africa, 73% of TB patients are HIV positive. Pixabay

Foods rich in Vitamin C (such as dark leafy greens, broccoli, kiwifruit and oranges) can enhance treatment and enable a faster recovery for people suffering from tuberculosis (TB), if taken along with regular medication.

TB is one of the world’s deadliest diseases, with one third of the global population infected. In 2016, it affected 10.4 million people around the world and caused 1.7 million deaths.

Vitamin C helps treating TB. Pexels
Vitamin C helps treating TB. Pexels

Findings

  • Giving Vitamin C — a powerful antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress to the body and also lowers cancer risk — with TB drugs could reduce the unusually long time it takes these drugs to eradicate this pathogen.
  • The addition of Vitamin C to TB drug treatment potentiates the killing of bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) and could shorten TB chemotherapy.
  • That’s important because treatment of drug susceptible TB takes six months, resulting in some treatment mismanagement, potentially leading to the emergence and spread of drug-resistant TB.

Vitamin C had no activity by itself, but in two independent experiments, the combination of Vitamin C with the first-line TB drugs, isoniazid and rifampicin, reduced the organ burdens faster than the two drugs without vitamin C, said Catherine J. Vilcheze, at the varsity.

“Vitamin C is known to be safe and our current mouse studies suggest that Vitamin C could enhance TB chemotherapy,” said lead investigator William R. Jacobs, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

TB is one of the world's deadliest diseases, with one third of the global population infected. Wikimedia commons
TB is one of the world’s deadliest diseases, with one third of the global population infected. Wikimedia commons

Methodology

  • The team treated MTB-infected mice with anti-TB drugs or vitamin C alone, or the drugs and vitamin C together.
  • Experiments in infected tissue cultures demonstrated similar results, shortening the time to sterilisation of the tissue culture by seven days.

The study was published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. (IANS)