The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been one of the world's most influential donors since its inception in 2020. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Dubai: One of the world’s biggest donors, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has put up a $8.6 billion budget for 2024 as it works to ‘save and improve’ lives of the most vulnerable.

The sum is a 4 per cent increase over 2023’s – and a $2 billion rise over the 2021 budget total.

The Foundation said the increase was warranted as ‘global contributions to health in the lowest-income countries are stalling’. It plans to hit a $9 billion mark by 2026.

Sub-Saharan African nations had to with a near 8 per cent decline in aid in 2022, even as they confront ‘shrinking budgets due to debt and other financial pressures’.

“We can’t talk about the future of humanity without talking about the future of health,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation and co-founder of Microsoft.

“Every day, new-born babies and young children die simply because of where they were born. Mothers die giving birth, leaving families devastated.

“That keeps me up at night. It’s unacceptable, particularly because we have already developed many of the solutions that could save their lives. Building a stronger, more stable world starts with good health.”

Since inception in 2000, the Gates Foundation has created programs to address gender equality, agricultural development, and public education. A major focus has been on reducing inequities in health by funding new tools and strategies to ‘reduce the burden of infectious diseases and the leading causes of child mortality in low-income countries’.

When the world puts money behind proven solutions, it builds stronger, healthier, and more resilient communities for generations to come

- Melinda French Gates

The announcement comes ahead of the latest edition of the Davos' World Economic Forum.

Measurable progress

The world had been making marked progress in cutting child deaths from more than 9.3 million a year in 2000 to 4.6 million a year as of end 2022.

Deaths from malaria and HIV were cut in half during the past two decades, and wild polio, which was paralyzing 350,000 children a year, reduced to 12 cases in two countries.

“The Gates Foundation measures impact in terms of lives saved and opportunities provided to the poorest,” said  Mark Suzman, the Gates Foundation CEO. “This new high-water mark for our budget will further our mission to help create a world where everyone has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life.”