China has played key R&D role, says Gates

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By AL­PHA DAFFAE SENKPENI

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion, has reaf­firmed the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s part­ner­ship with China in health­care re­search and de­vel­op­ment.

The wife of the bil­lion­aire Mi­crosoft Co-Founder Bill Gates pointed out that the coun­try was a “pow­er­ful ex­am­ple” in help­ing to elim­i­nate malaria world­wide.

She made her re­marks be­fore the start of a panel dis­cus­sion or­ga­nized by the Gates Foun­da­tion and Boao Fo­rum for Asia in Bei­jing last month.

The fea­tured topic was “In­no­va­tion and Part­ner­ship — An Op­ti­mist’s Vi­sion for the Fu­ture”.

Gates stressed at the fo­rum the sig­nif­i­cance of in­no­va­tion in solv­ing the world’s worst prob­lems such as poverty and dis­ease.

“We are proud to part­ner China in some of those ef­forts, in­clud­ing a pro­gram called the ‘Grand Chal­lenges’,” she said.

“There are also new global health pro­grams and a drug discovery in­sti­tute that we are fund­ing along with the Bei­jing mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment, as well as Ts­inghua Univer­sity,” she added.

Gates went on to praise China’s progress in com­bat­ing poverty and fight­ing dis­eases through health­care in­no­va­tion.

“China has lifted more than 700 mil­lion peo­ple out of poverty in one sin­gle gen­er­a­tion — that’s a stun­ning statis­tic,” she said.

“More than three-quar­ters of the de­cline in global poverty hap­pened right here,” Gates added.

The de­vel­op­ment of one of the world’s largest and most so­phis­ti­cated dig­i­tal pay­ment ecosys­tems was an­other ex­am­ple of Chi­nese in­no­va­tion.

This has un­locked un­prece­dented eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple across the coun­try.

Dur­ing her visit to Hu­nan province in 2008, Gates and the foun­da­tion she and her hus­band founded de­cided to sup­port re­search into erad­i­cat­ing tu­ber­cu­lo­sis in China.

She also re­called how more than 60 mil­lion peo­ple here suf­fered from malaria in the 1960s. But that bat­tle was largely won be­cause of new malaria drugs made pos­si­ble by the bril­liant work of Chi­nese Noble Prize win­ning chemist Tu Youyou.

Gates went on to talk at length about the role of phi­lan­thropists in help­ing to solve a myr­iad of is­sues in the world’s sec­ond largest econ­omy.

“They are us­ing their per­sonal wealth to trig­ger changes that they are pas­sion­ate about,” she said.

“I got into phi­lan­thropy be­cause I be­lieve the world will be bet­ter if in­no­va­tors fo­cus on the big­gest prob­lems fac­ing the most peo­ple,” she added. “And that’s ex­actly what China is do­ing — in­no­vat­ing to im­prove the lives of bil­lions.”

Al­pha Daffae Senkpeni is a jour­nal­ist work­ing at Fron­tPage Africa. He is based in Liberia but is vis­it­ing China Daily as part of a 10-month China-Africa Press Cen­tre fel­low­ship pro­gram.

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Foun­da­tion

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