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How does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation work in the Middle-East?

Bill et Melinda Gates

Bill et Melinda Gates

When talking about evolutions in certain humanitarian issues, Bill and Melinda have reasons to smile. They back the eponymous Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) which participates in the positive evolution of humanitarian issues in the Middle-East and in the world. Over $40 billion worth of endowments have been poured by philanthropic peers- as well as the couple themselves - and this makes it the wealthiest charity in the world.

In the Middle-East, access to vaccines, improved agricultural production, sanitary conditions and emergency response are being targeted.

Fighting poverty in the Middle East

The region is complex, and its social and economic background subject to change. The BMGF started working with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) as early as 2012, at first focusing on financing the global eradication of polio and malaria. In 2015, a new fund worth $500 million was created, called “Lives and Livelihoods”. Its goals are to eradicate poverty and illnesses present in the member states of the IDB, through support programs in healthcare, small agriculture infrastructures and rural service infrastructures. In IDB member states, over 400 million people currently live in poverty.

In 2016, the foundation announced a new donation to the fund, this time worth $2.5 billion. The fund will invest in the 30 least developed countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Health and research

Saudi Arabia itself has certain local priorities: Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (MERS-CoV) cases have been focused in the Kingdom. In response, Saudi Arabia has stepped up their research capabilities, through their Ministry of Health as well as the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST).

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a trickier phenomenon, as treatments to them do technically exist. Dengue Fever and Leishmaniasis both have a high prevalence in Syria, Yemen and the Horn of Africa, and cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia too, due to the migratory flows in the region. In the capital Riyadh, a center to control these tropical diseases is being developed, directed by Saudi expert Dr. Waleed Al-Saleem; with the support of the Ministry of Health, they hope to provide deeper understanding and protection for the Kingdom and the region by extension, from such diseases.

“Poverty is half today of what it was in 1990”

Today it is mostly a problem of perception that volunteers are facing. In an interview given to the YouTube vlogger Lily Singh in February 2017, Bill Gates says “Poverty is half today of what it was in 1990”. “But only 1% knew that”, he continues referencing the early 2017 study by research agency Glocalities, which studies the state of knowledge and state of mind facing global issues : “99 percent thought “Hey that’s way too good [to be true]”.

And on the evolutions in global interconnectedness, as reported by Al-Arabiya, the tech guru says, “If we look at the developing Internet companies and statistics about the Internet services use, we will see that many countries in the Middle East region are interrelated, and are even effectively connected with the rest of the world.”