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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)

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)

  • Ranger

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

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Immediate Health Aid by WHO Protects Vulnerable Population from Health Threats

Quick Response to Health Emergencies Protects Vulnerable Populations

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World Health Organisation
World Health Organization and partners have responded to 51 emergencies in more than 40 countries and territories. Wikimedia Commons

The World Health Organization reports investigations into potential health threats and the quick response by WHO and partners to global emergencies has protected millions of the world’s most vulnerable people this year from disease and death.

In 2019, the World Health Organization and partners have responded to 51 emergencies in more than 40 countries and territories and have investigated 440 potential health threats in 138 countries and territories.

After the headlines evoking these emergencies have faded away, the work of helping the victims of manmade and natural disasters recover carries on out of the media spotlight.

Executive Director of WHO Emergencies Program, Michael Ryan, says the unseen work of sustaining fragile health systems in conflicts and other emergencies does not stop.

“In Bangladesh, we work with partners to address the health needs of nearly one million Rohingya refugees living in the crowded camps in Cox’s Bazar,” said Ryan. “The mortality rate in this highly vulnerable population has remained at low levels…These crude death rates remain well below what is considered acceptable in this situation…And, that is down to a lot of hard work by a lot of people.”

Health Epidemic
A Rohingya refugee waits for her baby to be examined by doctors at the Unicef health centre at the Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh . VOA

Ryan says WHO and partners have provided health services to more than 10 million people in Yemen.   He says over one million children have been protected from vaccine-preventable diseases and more than 100,000 have been treated for severe acute malnutrition.

“In Uganda, Ebola transmission was prevented after cases crossed from DRC on two separate occasions,” said Ryan. “And, the preparedness work that has been going on in surrounding countries…Uganda, with the support of the international community spent $18 million on preparedness and stopped Ebola twice.”

The World Health Organization estimates more than one billion dollars will be spent to root out the deadly Ebola virus, which has been circulating in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since August 2018.  The latest number of reported cases stands at 3,366, including 2,227 deaths.

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Other emergencies to which WHO has responded over the past year include the cyclone in Mozambique, conflict emergencies in Syria and South Sudan, floods in Iran, an earthquake in Albania, and a deadly measles outbreak on the small Pacific island of Samoa. (VOA)