The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Will Invest $75 Million In Disease Surveillance Network In Africa and South Asia
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is preparing to fund a network of disease surveillance sites in Africa and South Asia to combat the growing issue of child mortality.
These sites will help gather data about how and why children are getting sick and identify what remedies can ease the early-age death count. Based on this data, the global health community will then be able to take the necessary steps to save lives and take precautions against epidemics like the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
“The world needs better, more timely public health data not only to prepare for the next epidemic, but to save children’s lives now,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Over the past 15 years, deaths of children in developing countries have been dramatically reduced, but to continue that trend for the next 15 years, we need more definitive data about where and why children are dying. This will also better position us to respond to other diseases that may turn into an epidemic.”
One of the main reasons for the slow response to the Ebola outbreak was the absence of research labs in West Africa. Establishing local labs in these regions will give the researchers access to better facilities and equip them to perform biopsies on deceased children for research. Currently these are kept for six surveillance sites but will be expanded to up to twenty.
The surveillance network project is called CHAMPS (Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance). According to Gates, the project is going to take a minimum twenty years to be able to cut childhood mortality rates by half. The Foundation is confident in the change which will be evident by 2040.