Microsoft chairman Bill Gates travelled to tech-savvy Andhra Pradesh state Thursday to talk business and immunise village children, winding up an Indian tour during which he has promised to pump in US$500 million.
Gates flew late Wednesday to the state capital Hyderabad, which has been a leader in India's computer software boom and where Microsoft has a development centre.
He was scheduled Thursday take a helicopter ride to a village school where he would launch the second phase of an immunisation program that seeks to help more than 1 million children each year, said Rajkumar, the project director. He uses a single name. Free vaccines for Hepatitis B will be provided in the new phase. "By introducing Hepatitis B vaccines and achieving 85 percent coverage in all districts, the project aims to save approximately 6,000 lives each year from complications resulting from hepatitis B infection," said a statement from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is funding the project.
On Monday, Gates pledged US$100 million from his foundation to fight AIDS in India. He announced Tuesday that Microsoft would invest US$400 million to expand his company's activities and promote computer literacy among children in India.
Gates was also scheduled to visit the technology centre of Satyam, one of India's largest software companies, as well as spend several hours at the Microsoft software development centre, state officials said.
The Gates Foundation is funding US$25 million in health projects across Andhra Pradesh state, including development of an oral vaccine against severe diarrhoea, which kills 250,000 children in India each year, state health officials said.
Hepatitis B is now one of India's top health concerns. There are about 43 million chronic Hepatitis B virus carriers in India who are at risk of chronic liver diseases, including liver cancer.