(MENAFN - Arab News) Bill Gates, founder of US software giant Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, announced a partnership with the Islamic Development Bank that is aimed at combating disease and food insecurity in poor countries.
Gates made the announcement in a speech yesterday at the Jeddah-based IDB.
The memorandum of understanding established a five-year partnership between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the IDB for cooperation in agricultural development and prevention and elimination of diseases such as malaria and polio.
"I am confident that our partnership with the Gates Foundation will be a positive step in injecting new resources and momentum into the fight against polio, malaria, food insecurity and other pressing development challenges." said Ahmed Mohamed Ali, president of IDB.
He said that the Islamic Development Bank is committed to catalyzing new approaches to funding economic and social development in its member countries around the world at present and for the future.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria have been chosen since they have been found to have a high level of polio incidence in their countries. The support will concentrate on efforts to increase national response systems through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
The IDB also announced that it is working with the Gates Foundation and the government of Pakistan to put together a deal worth SR 851.2 million aimed at funding polio eradication activities through 2015. According to the agreement, Pakistan has agreed to repay the principal amount while the Gates Foundation will pay any additional administrative costs.
Also on the table, the IDB is cooperating with the Gates Foundation to provide SR 45 million to help prevent and eradicate polio in Afghanistan. The finance package will be on a matching-grant basis.
"The bank's innovative approach to financing is helping to address some of the world's most pressing health and development challenges, including the urgent need to end polio forever. It is for this reason that I am enthusiastic about our collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank," said Gates.
Last month Gates said he and Ali joined Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other world leaders at the United Nations headquarters in New York to call for global solidarity to win the fight against polio. The high-level event featured leaders from each of the three polio-endemic countries, as well as major donors and partners.
The world is more than 99 percent on the way to eradicating polio. Globally, this year there have been 145 new polio cases reported through Sept. 18, compared to 400 cases at the same time last year.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) has implemented an emergency action plan approved by the May 2012 World Health Assembly, and affected countries are working more effectively against the disease.