Microsoft founder Bill Gates, one of the wealthiest men in the world, was back in Oslo on Friday to meet Norway’s new government leaders and secure more money for the vaccination program and GAVI fund he started up several years ago to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and polio.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) had reported that Gates was worried Norway’s new conservative government would cut funding for the program, which has been supported for years under the former left-center government headed by Labour’s Jens Stoltenberg. His government had further increased Norway’s funding amount by NOK 100 million (USD 16 million) in its proposed state budget for 2014.
The new government led by the Conservatives’ Erna Solberg opted to maintain the funding allocation in its own budget that’s up for debate in Parliament. That should satisfy Gates, at least for now.
With Gates standing by her side on Friday, Solberg said that Norway “aims to further develop our efforts to promote global health in cooperation with all relevant stakeholders, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”
Gates said he was glad to hear that Solberg had confirmed Norway’s commitment to maintain what he called “smart investments in global health and development.” He said the new Norwegian government is committed to doubling its contributions to GAVI between 2011 and 2015.
“This government will place high priority on global health,” Hans Brattskar, state secretary in the foreign ministry, told DN. “The Gates Foundation is an important partner in this work. In the proposed state budget there’s an increase in contributions to the biggest of the projects that Norway cooperates on with the Gates Foundation.”