THE BILLIONAIRE philanthropist’s foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has pledged $50 million to fight the Ebola viral outbreak in West Africa, according to a statement issued by the organisation on Wednesday.
The Associated Press noted that the donation is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s largest ever toward a humanitarian cause.
The foundation’s statement specified funds would immediately benefit United Nations (UN) agencies and international organisations involved in containing and treating the virus, allowing them to purchase necessary medical supplies and increase emergency operations.
From the foundation’s total pledge, $5 million has already gone towards the World Health Organisation (WHO), while another $5 million has been allocated for UNICEF efforts in some of the hardest hit regions of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
The historic pledge comes a week after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said ”the world can no longer afford to shortchange global public health,” urging international organisations to help WHO raise the approximate $600 million needed for supplies in West Africa. Deaths
In a report released September 5, WHO reported the overall death rate of the disease stood at 53 percent. The total number of cases reached 3,944, while 2,079 had died from infection in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone- countries identified as “those with widespread and intense transmission.”
“It’s become clear to us over the last [few] days that what was once an outbreak of Ebola is truly an epidemic,” Gates Foundation’s CEO, Sue Desmond-Hellmann, told CNN.
“We felt that rapid, flexible money would make a difference,” she added.
In addition to providing immediate support for the purchase of medical supplies, part of the $50 million commitment would go towards addressing longer term issues.
“We want to accelerate the development of treatments, vaccines and diagnostics that can help end this epidemic and prevent future outbreaks,” Desmond-Hellmann said.
Last week, World Health Organisation officials were in Washington D.C. asking the State Department and the Food and Drug Administration to help them raise $600 million in additional funds to combat the virus in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
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