The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced that it will award at least $150 million in grants this year — in addition to the $250 million it has committed to date — to help eradicate polio around the world.
The announcement was made as part of a statement in support of commitments made by leaders of Group of Eight (G8) countries to address some of the world's most pressing health and development challenges. While welcoming the G8's renewal of commitments to meet or exceed previous financial contributions to polio eradication, the statement encouraged all G8 countries to translate polio commitments made at previous summits into real financial resources and focused action.
In addition, the foundation praised G8 countries' focus on food security and agricultural development, as well as their recognition that the unfolding food crisis requires not only immediate financial resources but a focus on long-term agricultural development, an area that has experienced a dramatic decline in resources over the past two decades.
During the G8 conference, the leaders called on the private and nongovernmental sectors to help governments address development and health challenges. "The foundation supports the G8's expanded vision for strengthening health systems, its continued commitment to fight infectious diseases, and its recognition of the importance of water and sanitation to development and health outcomes," the statement read in part. "The G8 have created an important new mechanism that allows past and current spending on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and polio to be tracked and monitored transparently. We urge the G8 to strengthen this accountability mechanism next year by expanding the concept to include not only future spending plans but also other G8 commitments in global development."