They called upon governments and business to also contribute.
"We must make this the decade of vaccines," Bill Gates said in a statement.
"Vaccines are a miracle," said Melinda Gates. "With just a few doses, they can prevent deadly diseases for a lifetime."
The Gates Foundation has now made what might very well be the largest charitable donation in history, and sadly, it’s a disaster waiting to happen due to the misconception that more drugs are the answer to world health problems.
What really mystifies me is how this $10 billion donation can not be considered a direct subsidy of the drug companies as they will be the ones that benefit.
The author of Politicol News said it best:
“The 10 billion dollar announcement to pump more profits into pharmas world wide is the biggest mistake Gates has made since Microsoft’s Vista.”
As one of the world's most respected voices, Gates has a unique opportunity to call attention to important social issues and make a huge impact worldwide. Yet he is allowing himself to be seduced by special interests and is wasting his resources, along with his opportunity to make a real difference.
It’s a pity all that money isn’t going to the solutions that actually address the underlying problems, such as nutrition, clean water, sanitation and vitamin D.
How many water purification systems would that build in Haiti, or India? How many sanitation facilities? How many rations of fresh produce?
In Bed with Big Pharma
Donating money to help the children of the world is certainly commendable, and I would never fault anyone for that. But partnering with drug companies and expecting altruism is at best naïve.
I have great respect for Gates' intellectual prowess and really find it hard to believe that he does not know the truth about vaccines.
The problem is that Gates has no interest in natural healing and is relying on advisors that are rooted in the fatally flawed conventional medical paradigm that holds vaccines as the cure for all infectious diseases.
In fact, the Gates Foundation is deeply associated with Big Pharma and even Monsanto, as you can see from their recent associations:
Gates hired the vice president of Monsanto Robert Horsch[i] to join the Foundation in 2006
Gates added Merck CEO Raymond Gilmartin to his Board of Directors in 2001
Gates invested $205 million in nine of the large pharmaceutical companies in 2002
Gates Foundation has given more than $4.5 billion to vaccine research over the past several years
Vaccinating the Immune-Compromised is a Recipe for Disaster
In order to eradicate infectious disease from a nation, you have to first address compromised immune systems. If you hit immune suppressed children with a potent vaccine, you’re going to create disease, not eradicate it.
If you carefully evaluate this issue you will clearly appreciate that vaccines actually suppress your body’s immune functions.
Death and disease in developing countries is often a result of malnutrition, which is associated with the following types of problems[ii]:
Children with inadequate protein in their diets (kwashiorkor) are unable to produce antibodies after being given various vaccines, because their ability to produce white blood cells is compromised. White blood cells are essential in fighting infection.
Infectious organisms are more likely to penetrate the bodies of malnourished children due to inadequate vitamin C, which causes their skin to break down more easily and facilitates the entry of bacteria and other organisms.
The living conditions of third world children are often so poor that they are exposed to inordinately large numbers of pathogens, from which they have little defense.
The most common cause of death among children of developing nations is diarrhea.
Children in third world countries are often battling some sort of infection 200 days of the year.
Even healthy children have immature immune systems, but giving vaccines to children in generally weakened states of health is a sure recipe for disaster.
More Money than Sense
In a Seattle Times article[iii] , Kristi Helm makes the point that high-tech solutions don’t always work to solve health problems in developing countries and can actually make things worse if applied in the wrong way.
For example, initiatives fail when solutions miss the root cause of a problem.
As an example, Helm mentions the Gates Foundation’s Avahan Initiative[iv], a $258 million program designed to curtail the spread of HIV/AIDS in India, which has not lived up to its goals. The program is reportedly run by highly paid business consultants, rather than people with experience in public health.
Gates’ solution was to pour even more money into it this year—another $80 million—instead of really looking at why the program is missing the mark.
Margarita Quintanilla, a community health coordinator who worked in Nicaragua and a Gates Foundation grantee, expressed concern over how corporations want to jump in with technical solutions without giving any thought to the community’s basic social infrastructure needs, like education.
She experienced more success with teaching basic concepts like hand washing as a means of reducing infections.
"We have to be wise and intelligent in our solutions. We have the responsibility of promoting change in the right way."
Technology does not always hold the key to solving problems of health, education and poverty—social structures must be implemented along with it.
LA Times Found Gates' African Aid Program Put Children at Risk
Gates’ shortsightedness is evident from another philanthropic misstep.
The Los Angeles Times reported in 2007 that the Gates Foundation’s generous gifts to combat HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in Africa inadvertently put many children at risk.[v]
At the time, efforts to fight these specific diseases required highly specialized medical training, which resulted in a shortage of basic-care physicians.
Ironically, more children died of common ailments like sepsis and diarrhea.
This tragic phenomenon illustrates one of the problems when there is a disproportionate focus on certain illnesses—resources are diverted away from basic needs, like clean water and food, which are basic requirements for strong immunity in the first place.
And while there's no doubt that money is fundamentally important in saving the lives of vulnerable children, progress won't be made until the money is directed at the underlying problems, which are primarily lifestyle-based.
[i] “Monsanto vice president joins the Gates Foundation” (October 19, 2006) Organic Consumers Association
[iii] Helm K. “Two words missing from Gates Foundation vocabulary” (July 30, 2009) Seattle Times