World Economic Forum hears calls for health funding, Gates grants announced

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The annual gathering of business and political leaders previously held in Davos, Switzerland, has transferred for this year to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, from 31 January to 4 February. Seven protesters from ACT UP New York were the first to be arrested outside the venue, demanding greatly increased HIV/AIDS funding from the US and other governments and international corporations.

On Saturday 2 February, Microsoft co-founder and Chief Executive Bill Gates shared a platform with Bono, the lead singer of the group U2, and US Treasury Secretary Paul Neill, to call for greater public and private investment in global public health and healthcare.

Bono is a leading campaigner for international debt relief, as a supporter of Jubilee Plus. (Follow this link for a 2 January interview with CNN in which Bono sets out the connection between HIV/AIDS and debt relief.)

Glossary

microbicide

A product (such as a gel or cream) that is being tested in HIV prevention research. It could be applied topically to genital surfaces to prevent or reduce the transmission of HIV during sexual intercourse. Microbicides might also take other forms, including films, suppositories, and slow-releasing sponges or vaginal rings.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation took the occasion to announce US $50 million in grants for initiatives to prevent HIV and AIDS:

  • US $25 million for the International HIV/AIDS Alliance to fund prevention work with communities in Cambodia, Ecuador, Madagascar, and those States in India where the Alliance is already supporting a range of responses to HIV. (For more information on this grant, follow links to ‘what’s new’ and ‘press room’ on the Alliance site.)
  • US $20 million for the Population Council to help launch full-scale trials of a seaweed-based microbicide, Carraguard, in South Africa and Botswana.
  • US $5 million to PATH – the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health – also to develop microbicides.