Updated 25 January 2014

Gates Foundation gives R370m for health in SA

The Gates Foundation has donated R370m to SA research on three of Africa's worst killers - HIV/Aids, TB and malaria.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is partnering with the South African government to inject around R370m into projects aimed at finding vaccines and other medical innovations to fight these diseases.

The South African Medical Research Council (MRC) will receive around R315 million from the Gates Foundation and the Departments of Science and Technology, and Health.

The funds will be used by the MRC's Strategic Health Innovation Partnership (SHIP), with the main focus on seeking effective vaccines to prevent HIV/Aids and TB.

UCT's Drug Discovery and Development Centre will receive around R55 million from the Gates Foundation to continue the Centre's work in developing new drugs against TB and malaria.

Speaking at a press conference in Cape Town today, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, President of the MRC, stressed the importance of this level of funding in research:

"You need real muscle in the form of hundreds of millions of rands to be successful in developing these new medical products.

"I predict that in five years' time, SHIP will grow into a huge organisation, likely with a bigger budget than the MRC itself."

Karim also pointed out that SHIP research aims to "fill in" areas neglected by the pharmaceutical industry, and that new products developed could be used as leverage to make these affordable and accessible to all.

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