Gates’ fund gives millions to combat livestock diseases

Billionaire software designer and Microsoft founder Bill Gates has announced a multi-million pound donation to help guard against disease affecting livestock.

Mr Gates, one of the world’s richest men, announced yesterday that he was giving £31.2m to a UK livestock medicine charity.

The Edinburgh-based Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) is to receive the cash from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as the Government’s Department for International Development (DfID).

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GALVmed’s interim chief executive, Professor Peter Wells said: “We are delighted that this funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and DfID will enable the GALVmed alliance to work with partners to scale-up access to livestock vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for resource-poor people.

“Across the developing world, livestock are an essential means of funding the most basic needs including food, education and healthcare.

“We are working to protect livestock and save human lives and livelihoods by making livestock vaccines, diagnostics and medicines accessible and affordable to the millions in developing countries for whom livestock is a lifeline.

“This announcement today will take us much further in achieving our goal.”

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The funding announcement was made by Mr Gates at the 35th session of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)’s governing council in Rome.

The foundation is providing $41m over five years.

It will be used to support the development and delivery of key veterinary vaccines, medicines, and diagnostics for poor farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

A spokesman said: “This grant focuses on diseases that affect primarily cattle, sheep, goats, and chickens.”

The announcement forms part of a nearly $200m fund for new agriculture grants.

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In a speech delivered at the IFAD gathering in Italy yesterday, Mr Gates asked the UN bodies responsible for fighting hunger and poverty to unite around a common global target for sustainable productivity growth to guide and measure their efforts.

“If you care about the poorest, you care about agriculture,” said Mr Gates.

He added: “Investments in agriculture are the best weapons against hunger and poverty, and they have made life better for billions of people.

“The international agriculture community needs to be more innovative, coordinated, and focused to help poor farmers grow more.”