|Gates Charity Is Doubling
By STEPHANIE STROM
Published: January 25, 2005
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/25/national/25gates.html?oref=login&oref=login&th (must register to view original article)
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is doubling its contribution to increase access to basic childhood vaccinations in the world's poorest nations, bringing its total commitment to $1.5 billion.
Melinda Gates said that the foundation was doubling the $750 million donation it made in 1999 to establish the alliance because that donation was "the best investment we've made."
She said that more than 42 million children had been vaccinated against hepatitis B, that more than 670,000 premature deaths had been prevented from 2001 through 2003 and that 991 million syringes had been used to improve vaccine safety, since they could only be used once. "It's clear that vaccines are the best investment the world can make in children's health," Mrs. Gates said during a conference call last week that was conducted under an agreement that the announcement would be made today.
Together, the Gates Foundation's grants to the immunization project are its biggest commitment, exceeding its $1 billion grant to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for scholarships.
One way the foundation assesses the "bang" it gets for its bucks is how much money the recipient organizations can then attract from other donors. The first Gates grant for immunization, for instance, resulted in roughly an equal amount pledged from other donors, mostly governments. So the immunization alliance received a total commitment of about $1.4 billion in its first five years.
In a 2003 interview, Mr. Gates said he had hoped each dollar in the foundation's grants would produce two dollars in other contributions, but he said in a telephone call that he was satisfied.
Mrs. Gates said the foundation's latest grant should help reassure potential donors. "People need to know this is a long-term commitment," she said. "They need to know it's something that will be sustained in a big way." Drug companies, for instance, want to know that the distribution systems being put in place in impoverished countries are supported so that their investments in manufacturing vaccines will pay off.
Among governments, Norway gave $150 million in the immunization alliance's start-up phase and said during the conference call that it would contribute $290 million more over the next five years. Only the United States has given more, $219 million in the first five years.