Gates Foundation CEO defends philanthropy’s influence on global health

In its annual letterBill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman responded to criticism of the organization’s power and influence on key public health initiatives around the world, saying it does not try to set the global public health agenda. of health and development, but only of “responding to it,” as the foundation announced Tuesday the largest annual budget in its history.

In the annual letter, Suzman outlined the Gates Foundation’s plans to spend $8.3 billion on various initiatives in 2023 – the highest annual amount in its history – before addressing multiple criticisms leveled at the organization.

Without specifically naming anyone, the letter rejects criticism that “undelected billionaires set the global health and development agenda,” and asserts that the Gates Foundation is merely responding to the agenda already set by global bodies and relies on on the UN Sustainable Development Goals for guidance.

The letter noted that the foundation makes all its investments public and tries to be “fully transparent about our priorities and strategies.”

Suzman, however, agreed with the argument that “it is not right for a private philanthropy to be one of the largest funders of multinational global health efforts,” adding that countries should fully fund these initiatives.

The Gates Foundation is the second largest donor to World Health Organization programs and Suzman argues that this is because “countries have decreased their contributions.”

Suzman added that he would love to see many more governments move the Gates Foundation to the WHO’s list of top donors “because that would mean more lives saved.”

“We will look for even more effective ways to accelerate innovation and drive action towards the global goals. That does not mean that we are going to set the agenda of multilateral organizations like the WHO and the Global Fund. Nor will we decide which malaria drugs are approved by regulatory bodies, or what research is carried out by scientists. We will not decide what seeds farmers plant in their fields, what curriculum a school system adopts, or whether to hang a mosquito net on a house,” Suzman said.

The philanthropic efforts of Bill and Melinda Gates have been the subject of scrutiny by public health experts, activists, and academics for several years due to the enormous size of their endowment and their influence on global health issues. This scrutiny has increased in the last two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the participation of the foundation in financing various therapies and vaccines to combat the coronavirus.

In 2020, Kaiser Health News reported that the Gates Foundation urged Oxford University to backtrack on its plan to donate the rights to its Covid-19 vaccine on a non-exclusive basis and instead sign an exclusivity agreement with AstraZeneca giving it the rights exclusive manufacturing and licensing of the vaccine.

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In an interview with the New York Times later that year, Melinda Gates said that vaccine manufacturers should be allowed to make a small profit “because we want them to stay in business.” Aside from serious criticism, the foundation and its founder, Bill Gates, have been the target of multiple conspiracy theories debunked about Covid-19 and vaccines. Some experts have disputed the Gates foundation’s global health priorities, while others have questioned the effectiveness of his work.

According to our estimates, Bill Gates’ current net worth is $103.8 billion. Melinda Gates, who divorced Bill in 2021, has a current net worth of $6.8 billion.

Posted in Forbes US

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Gates Foundation CEO defends philanthropy’s influence on global health