April 01, 2009, 9:55 AM — Bill Gates announced a $33 million grant from his charity foundation to help fight tuberculosis in China on Wednesday, deepening his organization's involvement in the country.
New tests and treatments for TB will be offered in China under the joint program between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Chinese government, the Microsoft Corp. chairman said in Beijing at a forum attended by representatives from countries severely affected by drug-resistant TB.
The program will test the new treatments in six provinces before expanding their coverage to 100 million people within five years, said Gates, who is also co-chair of the charity organization named after him and his wife.
TB kills more than 200,000 people each year in China, which is home to 15 percent of the world's cases, according to the World Health Organization.
The procedures piloted in the program will include tests that shrink diagnosis time from several weeks to hours for forms of TB that are resistant to traditional treatment, said Gates. That will mean faster treatment for victims of the increasingly common drug-resistant forms of the disease.
"If China leads in the fight against TB -- developing new approaches here in China and demonstrating them to the world -- we can see a dramatic drop in the number of TB deaths in the next decade," he said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks.
The Gates Foundation has also donated tens of millions of dollars to fight AIDS and smoking in China in recent years.