Earlier in the week I had the privilege of meeting tech billionaire and Microsoft founder Bill Gates at an event in London, to discuss the work he has been doing with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to eradicate malaria, polio and rubella.
Mr Gates was in London specifically to launch with the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osbourne, a £3billion fund to help to beat what is often referred to as the world’s deadliest killer, malaria.
The mosquito-borne disease was responsible for some 400,000 deaths in 2015 alone, mostly children in Africa. The UK is funding £500m a year from the overseas aid budget, with the rest of the money coming from the Gates Foundation.
Much progress has been made in recent years, but efforts are threatened by the resilience that mosquitos build up and the money that is being given will go towards future development of drugs and insecticides, as well as other practical items like treated mosquito nets.
Some of the vaccines that are in production at the present time are as yet unproven, but there are some very encouraging signs during testing - and they are considered to have the potential to save thousands of lives. And the problems caused by these and other insects can have a far reaching effect economically as well – with the destruction of huge volumes of crops over many countries, economies struggle and fail and thereby poverty becomes engrained.
It is a wonderful thing to find philanthropy such as we see with the Gates Foundation. Millions – indeed billions – of pounds are given to many projects across the world to fight disease, poverty, malnutrition and much more besides.
Over the next few days I am going to parts of the Mediterranean on a trip organised by Save the Children, to see for myself the impact of the refugee crisis in Europe. I am going with some other MPs, whilst recognising the huge contribution the UK makes financially, and by providing sanctuary to the refugees in Britain – the trip is designed to see the frontline in Europe.
I will be reporting back next week on what I see in the Herald as well as on my website. It promises to be a challenging trip.
What wonderful news - at the time of writing, Eastbourne based Johanna Konta, Britain’s No.1 female tennis player had just reached the Semi Final of the Australian Open.
All of Eastbourne will be wishing her well, and hopefully she can get through to the final, and even win the Grand Slam event! Let’s hope she is making a priority of being at the Eastbourne tournament in June, where she will be guaranteed a warm welcome, no matter what happens in Australia.