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Q and A with Melinda Gates and Dr Sipho Moyo from campaigning group ONE.

(27 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 01-Dec-10 12:01:37

Today is World AIDS Day and to mark this, we're inviting mumsnetters to send in questions to development experts Melinda Gates and Dr Sipho Moyo, from the Gates Foundation and campaigning organisation ONE.

Melinda Gates is the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a not for profit organisation she and husband Bill founded in 1994. Its aims include combating extreme poverty and poor health in developing countries. Together they are the biggest philanthropists in the world today, having given $28 billion of their personal fortune for their foundation?s work. Melinda was in London recently to help ONE launch Living Proof - a campaign dedicated to sharing the stories of progress and success in global health and development. She lives with Bill and their three children in Seattle, Washington

Dr Sipho Moyo is the Africa Director for ONE - a grassroots advocacy and campaigning organisation that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa, by raising public awareness and pressuring governments, and has over 2 million members worldwide. One of their current campaigns highlights that shocking statistic that over 1,000 children are born with HIV every day, despite the fact that mother to child transmission is preventable, and calls for No Child to be born with HIV by 2015 - see their powerful video featuring pregnant women. Dr Moyo has spent a long career in international development, including posts at the World Bank, the UN and most recently the African Development Bank as Tanzania Country Director. She has lived in nine different countries - seven in her home continent of Africa plus the US and Italy. She now lives in Johannesburg, South Africa and has a daughter studying in the US.

Send your questions in to Melinda and Dr Moyo by midday on Monday 6th December and we'll link to the answers from this thread on Friday 10th December.

onebatmother Mon 06-Dec-10 17:45:50

Hello, and thanks very much for coming.

The Gates Foundation seems to exemplify a trend in international development: big private charities taking on functions that have previously been the preserve of governments (I’m thinking of the GF’s role in funding R&D, for example).

While the Foundation, and other orgs like the Global Fund, do great work, do you think there could be problems of accountability? What steps does the Foundation take to be fully accountable, particularly to people in the global south?

Can I also squeeze in a second question and ask whether you think these big private organisations are slowly usurping the role of the United Nations? If not, in which respects to do you think your work differs from that of a UN agency?

bebee Mon 06-Dec-10 15:03:52

Aargh... have I missed the deadline? Have been meaning to post all weekend. Hope you can squeeze this one in..

First of all delighted that you were able to come on MN - and v impressed by all the work you have done and continue to do, so please don't take this question the wrong way.... But basically what does the Living Proof campaign have to say about corruption aid going "missing" /getting in to the wrong hands, being misused by officials. This seems to be something that comes up whenever I talk about aid/ charity with friends, it's a major concern for the UK public and only last week, the Wikileaks cables reported that a senior member of the government in Afghanistan had flown into the US carrying several million dollars in cash shock. Can you help me to reassure people that their money is being spent on humanitarian projects rather than presidential palaces?

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 06-Dec-10 13:27:25

Many thanks for all your questions which we'll send over to Melinda and Dr Moyo this afternoon. We'll be linking to their answers from this thread later in the week.

nowit Mon 06-Dec-10 12:38:38

I’ve done a brief internet search on the Gates Foundation, and while there is a lot of information about its work on disease eradication, I haven’t seen much about poverty reduction.

Do ONE and the Gates Foundation have an explicit focus on health, or do they also work in other areas of development (education, infrastructure, agriculture, housing and so on)?

policywonk Mon 06-Dec-10 11:55:14

Hello Mrs Gates and Dr Moyo - thanks for coming on to Mumsnet.

I'd like to know what the Gates Foundation thinks about the increasing emphasis within DFID and USAID on the prioritisation of 'conflict' countries. It seems to me, as someone who fully supports the ringfencing of development funds and the 0.7% target, that this encroaching focus will see development money hijacked for projects that are more properly the concern of defence or foreign policy departments.

bluedogs Sun 05-Dec-10 18:49:11

I guess you could term what I want to do as micro philandthophy. I have £50 a month to donate and want to know what is the way to get the most "bang for my buck" in terms of impact in aid work in a developing country. Should I donate the money to an established organisation already working for causes that I support or should I attempt some kind of direct giving to an individual/organisation locally? How does the Gates Foundation chose its partners?

innotime Fri 03-Dec-10 13:11:17

Hi there both, great that you're doing this. I supported Make Poverty History in 2005 (like I’m sure a lot of other mumsnetters did) which was a big moment here in the UK for awareness raising and campaigning on global poverty. So I’d like to know what you think the benefits of that where, and what do you think have been the major achievements in development in the last few decades?

aim4u2b Fri 03-Dec-10 10:13:32

I really applaud the work you are doing & thank God (literally) that you do! As someone in business who believes passioantely in "giving back" I wish to start a charity with similar aims (at local level & in the world) because I also aim to model the best examples, do you have any inspirational tips on how best to proceed?

supersocrates Thu 02-Dec-10 15:43:53

I would very much like your feedback on the following session "Probably the most difficult job in the 21st century – being a good parent" - What our children really need to learn in order to have a good chance of success in life? found by clicking on ing and on this website created to 'help everyone learn to succeed'.

Unprune Thu 02-Dec-10 13:59:25

ThaMasterandMargaritas: the Gates Foundation has been funding research into malaria prevention for years now! iirc it was the first thing they got involved in.

I would like to ask, with regard to prevention of HIV transmission, how do you feel about the promotion of abstinence? It is very tied up with a moral/religious agenda that isn't very palatable to liberal Western minds. How do you see it being used, and do you think promoting abstinence and monogamy has any practical effect on the ground?

newby222 Thu 02-Dec-10 12:52:20

Dear Melinda,
Would you be interested in supporting my small enterprise with investment/sponsorship to roll our Award-Winning EGAR Educational Games And Resources rhoughout the UK please?
At EGAR we design and publish Let's Get Talking Choice Discussion Card Sets and Display Message Posters for schools, youth services, mentors, counsellors and parents/carers to use to educate children and teenagers in Health, Crime Prevention, Personal Development, Citizenship and the Envrionment. The card sets are for intervention and prevention work and have all been tried and tested in Camden and Islington, London with great positive testimonials as they deal with real social and challenging adolescent issues and are great tools for intervention and prevention work. The Chair of the London Assembly has given us a great endorsement that you can read about on our website

loupy01 Thu 02-Dec-10 10:07:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

expatinscotland Wed 01-Dec-10 22:13:37

'How can the most powerful country in the world deny healthcare to its own children? It seems to me if you are fortunate enough to be born American, but unfortunate enough to be born to parents who don't have some sort of insurance, you are denied the opportunity of wonderful facilities, doctors and hospitals.'

I'm American/British. It is not that you are denied healthcare for not having insurance. It's that you must pay for it, it is not free at the point of service.

It is also entirely possible to be insured, but unable to access certain drugs or treatments unless you pay for them yourself because your insurance provider will not cover them or their costs. If I'm, say, a Kaiser patient, but need or want a treatment only offered at a non-Kaiser hospital, then if I can't get Kaiser to authorise payment, I have to pay for it myself.

Similarly, quite a few states do offer healthcare programmes to children of uninsured parents for free or on a scale based on yoru income.

Also, all childhood vaccines are now free.

I worked for a couple of years in a 'county' hospital in a major city. We saw trauma patients every day who were not insured and they were treated.

It's just that they were then responsible for the bill if they were not on Medicaid (a health insurance, if you will, for the indigent).

platanista Wed 01-Dec-10 21:49:26

Dr Sipho - I think campaigns like ONE are very important in bringing issues onto the international agenda. You fill in a large gap between the people with the problems and the people making the decisions. Could you shed some light on how you think that the people who you are campaigning for view these large, international campaigns. How, as a campaign, do you communicate towards the people you campaign for?

many thanks

platanista Wed 01-Dec-10 21:33:44

Dear Mrs Gates - I'd like to congratulate you and your husband on your work. I know some of the work funded first hand and I am pleased that the foundation is prepared to take risks and is open to innovation.

Indeed, there is a strong emphasis on innovation, and this is where my question comes in: starting projects and taking new directions is often relatively easy - the hard part is actually seeing an approach or programme through over long spells of time before they will start yielding results. How do you and the foundation balance innovation versus long, long-term commitment? And do you think there is a danger of spreading yourselves too thin by working with as many partners as you do?

On a more personal level I would dearly love to know how it feels to literally hold the purse strings to changing people's lives, but knowing you can't possibly fix everything; I find myself thinking that that can't really be a comfortable position to be in.

Many thanks

NonnoMum Wed 01-Dec-10 21:02:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BaroqinAroundTheChristmasTree Wed 01-Dec-10 20:43:51

btw themaster - if you look at the ONE website here they do already appear to be tackling the other major killers as well.

If you look under issues there's quite a few things they're working towards.

Think the HIV has been highlighted at this point because of their current campaign?

BaroqinAroundTheChristmasTree Wed 01-Dec-10 20:33:47

I have no questions. But watching that video, and reading some of the ONE website has brought back to the front of my memory of a little girl at St Giles School in Zimbabwe. I was only 18 when I started working there, and learned soon after that she was HIV positive, she died less than one year later sad.

Even now 13yrs on I can still picture her little face, and it still chokes me up to think of it. I can't even begin to imagine how it must be for the family and those close to her.

David65 Wed 01-Dec-10 20:22:25

Hi Thanks for the opportunity, and for your amazing work!

Recently we've seen some pretty good results in placebo controlled trials for therapeutic vaccines that target HIV.

These would be far cheaper than ARVs and easier to administer in the developing world. And the long term permanent side effects from ARVs are serious and well documented - ranging from organ failure to bone density loss to premature death.

Why doesn't the Gates Foundation and IAVI fund these efforts?


montysorry Wed 01-Dec-10 20:11:39

My question was pretty much in line with Expat's so I shalln't post it again. smile

But just wanted to congratulate you both on the excellent work you do and the difference you're making.

Dear Mrs Gates and Dr Moyo

As a person living and working in Africa for quite some years, I can appreciate all the time, energy and effort that has gone into HIV awareness programmes and improved accessibility to testing, counselling and anti-retrovirals from some of the world's leading donors. Whilst all this time and money has lead to a reduction in prevalence rates in most African countries, it is not as great a reduction as was forecast.

Should the Gates Foundation not be be focusing on preventing other diseases that kill far more people (mostly children) than HIV does and are cheaper and easier to prevent? Malaria for example is hugely underfunded and a greater killer of children under 5 than AIDS. What of water borne diarrhoeal diseases?

Also how does the Gates Foundation/ONE work with governments to tackle the underlying causes of poor health, that may make a person more susceptible to contracting a communicable disease?

hazelhoo Wed 01-Dec-10 17:16:59

Mrs Gates and Dr Sipho

I was really shocked when I heard that over 1000 babies are born each day HIV +ve unnecessarily and so I am in full support of the campaign to prevent this and appreciate all the hard work that goes into it.

I see that much of your work is rightfully targeted at practical interventions to prevent desease and extreme poverty. As a counsellor I wondered what the foundation does/could do to provide, offer or encourage emotional support for those affected by extreme poverty, poor health and in particular those born HIV +ve and their parents and families?

Thank you

funnyperson Wed 01-Dec-10 16:34:16

What plans, if any, do the Gates foundation have to help fund vaccine research for childhood vaccines in Europe?
I ask because I think there is a massive expertise in vaccinology, particularly in the UK, with European and world collaboration, but dwindling funding.
Thank you

Maggie50 Wed 01-Dec-10 16:06:04

Mrs Gates and Dr Sipho,

I have to say I admire you both for the great work you’re doing. I often wonder what I can do, and if people like yourselves ever get overwhelmed by the problems you are trying to deal with. I reckon it’s important we all try and do our bit, but I often don’t know how best to. What if anything at all do you think a regular individual like me and other mumsnetters can do to help?

Bucharest Wed 01-Dec-10 14:59:44

No questions, just wanted to say that I wish more wealthy people behaved with the same philanthropism and modesty that the Gates's do. smile

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