“There is no bigger test to humanity than the crisis of global health . Without compassion we wont do anything. Without science , we cant do anything. “
That’s Bill Gates talking, folks.
When the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced the opening of Round 5 of Grand Challenges Exploration, the billionaire couple’s project offering a US$100 million grant initiative to encourage innovation in global health research, both fans and skeptic groups alike had their heads turning.
The foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations , a five-year, $100 million initiative to promote innovation and achieve major breakthroughs in global health, comes on strong as all-heart and compassion for the Third World, described as exerting efforts to help develop and deliver low-cost, life-saving health tools for the developing world.
GatesFoundation.org presents itself as traversing beyond the innovations and breakthroughs in technology and its lucrative arena, and trudging through the burgeoning challenges and complexities of of 21st century living’s humane side, treading through the narrow road of extending a helping hand for the Third World, making sure that denizens of both worlds are leading meaningful and productive lives.
“Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people, especially those with the fewest resources, have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. “
Spearheading the project --- the Global Health Program which is under the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation --- is Tadataka Yamada, M.D., who is former Chairman of Research and Development and member of the Board of Directors of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) , also past president of the American Gastroenterological Association and the Association of American Physicians , a master of the American College of Physicians , and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the US’ National Academy of Science , and the UK’s Academy of Medical Sciences.
Yamada said in a statement published at the New England Journal of Medicine that the said foundation is willing to promote more aggressive and adventurous approaches to medical research , raring to jumpstart unconventional projects that could transform health in developing countries, and is “willing to take risks”. The Foundation is backing up hundreds of innovative early-stage projects with financial support over the course of 5 years, and shelling out $100,000 investment in each project.
The Global Health Program chief explains : “We want bold ideas — even seemingly wacky ones — that need just a little help to get tested. Proposals will require creative thinking but no preliminary data. We'll run each idea past two groups of reviewers — one composed of internal scientists, and another of partners and advisers with a history of identifying creative solutions to difficult problems. We expect many of these projects to fail, but we stand ready to put substantial funding behind those that succeed. “
Curiously enough, the global health initiative zeroes in on unorthodox and out-of-the-box mindsets and ways of thinking in bold, avante-garde fashion which could be typically Bill Gates in unconventional flavor. Yamada stresses the point . "We hope to hear from researchers of every age, on every continent, and from disciplines that don't typically focus on global health or even biomedical research … History taught us that innovative ideas can come from anywhere."
Meantime, Grand Challenges Explorations’ Round 5 zooms in on technological innovations and inventions on low-cost mobile phones’ applications benefitting priority global health conditions, new technologies on improving health for newborns and mothers, new breakthroughs showcasing protection against infectious diseases, creating new innovative breakthroughs promoting birth control .
Recently in the news and soaking in lukewarm controversy was the foundation’s granting of $100 million to medical efforts by James Tsuruta and Paul Dayton from the University of North Carolina,with ongoing studies on ultrasound waves’ effect of temporarily depleting testicular sperm counts, being lined up as latest breakthrough for possible male contraceptives.
Tsuruta says : "We think this could provide men with up to six months of reliable, low-cost, non-hormonal contraception from a single round of treatment… Our long-term goal is to use ultrasound from therapeutic instruments that are commonly found in sports medicine or physical therapy clinics as an inexpensive, long-term, reversible male contraceptive suitable for use in developing to first world countries."