Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thanks, Bill and Melinda Gates

It is easy online to be mean and negative and snarky. Blogging is particularly well-suited to destroy rather than to build up, but let's try something different here for starters this morning. Thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates' could, ostensibly, spend the rest of their lives in conspicuous consumption if they wanted, travelling the French Riviera, getting stupendous tans, skiing in Gstaad in the winter, collecting Old Masters, and, on the side, sampling the cuisine of the planet.

Instead they are taking their billions and making the world a better place for the less fortunate. It just so happens that one of their initiatives has helped poor children in Uganda, The Corsair's home country. From The NYTimes:

''A dangerous type of childhood meningitis has been virtually eliminated in Uganda in just five years after a vaccine was introduced, according to a study released this week.

''That should save the lives of 5,000 children a year, the authors estimated.

''... The vaccine, known as Hib, protects against haemophilus influenzae type B, a bacterium that can inflame the lining of the brain or cause pneumonia. Each year, it kills 386,000 children globally. Three million more have severe side effects like deafness, paralysis or retardation.

''The vaccine has existed since 1991 but was rare in the third world until the creation of the alliance — originally the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization — in 2000. Even at prices offered to poor countries, it had cost $7 , seven times as much as other vaccines.

The alliance joins United Nations health agencies, the World Bank, vaccine companies, universities and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and receives money from $1 billion in bonds issued by the International Finance Facility for Immunization.''

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