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Dr Venkayya to head health division

An Indian American has been named by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as director of its Global Health Delivery.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, New York
UPDATED ON FEB 09, 2008 02:34 AM IST

An Indian American doctor has been named by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as director of its Global Health Delivery, one of the five teams in the Global Health Programme of the world's largest charity. The foundation has also named an Indian to the advisory panel of their programme.

Rajeev Venkayya was till recently a special assistant to President George W Bush and a senior director for bio-defence on the White House Homeland Security Council.

He will oversee the foundation's efforts to help expand the availability of effective vaccines, drugs and other health solutions in the developing world.Venkayya will also head preparations for delivery of future health solutions, the Gates foundation said in a statement.

Global Health Programme president Tachi Yamada said: "Rajeev brings a wealth of experience both as a physician and a senior health policy strategist, and we are fortunate to have him heading our efforts in this area."

Venkayya said after the nomination: "Every year, millions in poor countries die from preventable causes because they do not receive basic health services taken for granted in rich countries. I look forward to working with the foundation's grantees and partners to address this critical challenge."

Venkayya has a degree in medicine from Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine and is a former coordinator of the US government medical and public health efforts, including preparations for a potential influenza pandemic.

He is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine. Previously, he was co-director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit and director of the High-Risk Asthma Clinic at San Francisco General Hospital.

The foundation has also named Sujatha Rao, additional secretary and director general of the National AIDS Control Organisation under the Indian ministry of health and family welfare, as an advisor on the panel of five.

With an asset trust endowment of close to $39 billion and $3 billion it doles out each year, the biggest goal the Gates foundation has set for itself is to find a vaccine to prevent AIDS. They also want to eradicate malaria, spark an agricultural revolution in Africa and ensure that every child in the US has an access to quality education.

Meanwhile, the Seattle-based foundation is undergoing major changes at the top. CEO Patty Stonesifer, who has led the foundation since its inception in 1997, has announced her decision to step down by the end of the year.

Bill Gates has decided to work full time at the foundation after stepping down from hands-on management at Microsoft later this year. His wife Melinda is also boosting the amount of time she devotes to the projects of the charity.

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