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Committed to India: Gates

delhi Updated: Jul 24, 2009 00:21 IST
Sanchita Sharma
Sanchita Sharma
Hindustan Times
Committed to India: Gates

“It’s not good for kids to inherit large amounts of money,” said Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has committed Rs 4,830 crore ($996 million) to health and development projects here, including Rs 1,652 crore ($338 million) for HIV prevention.

“Melinda and I believe it is better for our kids if we give it away than largely leave it to them,” said Gates (53), here to receive the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development, on behalf of the Foundation, on Saturday.

The world’s richest man spent Thursday in western UP, where he visited a primary health centre to get a real feel of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) — a government scheme that aims at providing healthcare services to rural households across the country.

“It’s good the government is spending more,” said Gates.

Next on the agenda is Bihar. “I can't go now (on this trip) but have a teleconference on polio with the chief minister (Nitish Kumar) tomorrow.”

He is worried the polio eradication programme in Bihar is getting fatigued. “India came so close to eradication in 2005 (66 cases), but infection flared up next year (676 cases). Now health workers are getting fatigued, parents are getting fatigued. We may never get it eradicated if we buckle under now,” said Gates, who is meeting Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday.

Gates confirmed that Avahan, the Foundation’s Rs 1,652-crore India AIDS Initiative, will handover operations to the government by 2014. “It makes sense to get something in strong shape and integrate it to government programme. Now that Avahan is winding down, other things are ramping up.”

Routine immunization one such issue.

“Routine immunization is where India has not done well. India accounts for about 40 per cent of world measles deaths. Africa is better… Better tracking is needed, perhaps the national identity card will help,” Gates said.