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Bill Gates
joins Gordon Brown's new global health plan

Bill Gates
joins Gordon Brown's new global health plan

Software tycoon Bill Gates gave his backing to a new initiative unveiled by British prime minister Gordon Brown to tackle killer diseases in developing countries, but donor countries offered no new funding.

Gates is among the high-profile supporters of the plan, which Brown said aims to ensure funds pledged to poorer countries are directed toward treating patients, instead of becoming tied up in bureaucracy.

His program, backed by Germany, Canada, Norway, France, Italy, and the Netherlands, is part of a wider drive to speed progress toward meeting the U.N. Millennium Development Goals.

Private-sector companies, including pharmaceuticals, will work with donor nations to offer aid and equipment and help with the administration of health care, Brown's Downing Street office said.

The GAVI Alliance, which represents major vaccine developers including GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Novartis AG, will be involved in the plan, officials said.

''This partnership can help save lives by strengthening health systems in developing countries, and ensuring that health resources go where they're needed most,'' said Gates, whose Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is backing the program.

Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Zambia, Cambodia, and Nepal are the seven countries to be targeted with help in a first round of the program, Britain's Department for International Development said.

Each has agreed to increase public spending on health care in return for support from donor nations and private sector supporters, Brown said.

Officials acknowledged the program does not include any pledges of increased aid from donor countries.

Gates said better coordination among donors, governments, and international agencies was vital, but that developing nations also needed additional resources.

Brown's International Health Partnership aims to meet development goals seeking to cut infant and maternal deaths and reduce HIV/AIDS and malaria.

He has pledged to push world statesmen, and business leaders, to meet the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, eight benchmarks set in 2000, after an assessment in June warned they were unlikely to be achieved by the target date of 2015.

''Today we come together--donor governments, health agencies, and developing countries--with the certainty that we have the knowledge and the power to save millions of lives through our efforts,'' Brown said in a statement.

Douglas Alexander, International Development Secretary, said that though global health aid had doubled since 2000, work was needed to reduce the confusing network of 40 donor countries, 26 U.N. agencies, 20 global funds, and 90 health initiatives currently involved.

''We expect important changes that will enable us to utilize a higher proportion of the aid,'' said Ethiopian health minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom, in a statement. (AP)

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