Belgium and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation renew their agreement to strengthen healthcare systems and ensure fairer access to health tools in sub-Saharan Africa

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On Wednesday, October 11, the Belgian government, represented by the Minister for Development Cooperation, Ms Caroline Gennez, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, represented by co-chair Mr Bill Gates, renewed their partnership in Brussels by signing a new memorandum of understanding. Belgium and the foundation are thus committed to continuing their constructive partnership. The new memorandum of understanding focuses on strengthening national healthcare systems, ensuring that people in low- and middle-income countries have fairer access to the care and tools that protect their health and improve their quality of life.

Particular attention will be paid to the principles of local ownership and mutual accountability to partner countries, efforts on gender equality and climate change, as well as coherence and complementarity with existing cooperation activities carried out by multilateral actors and Team Europe.

The fight against malaria and other infectious diseases is also part of this approach. Together with local partners, Belgium and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aim to reduce the burden of malaria and neglected tropical diseases on the world’s most vulnerable people. In addition, Belgium and the foundation will continue their efforts from a previous memorandum of understanding in the fight against human African trypanosomiasis "HAT" (commonly known as "sleeping sickness") in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they aim to stop transmission of the disease completely by 2030. Their collaboration, together with local partners, has already resulted in a decline in the number of new cases of sleeping sickness.

Caroline Gennez, Minister for Development Cooperation: "Accessible, affordable, quality healthcare is a fundamental right and one of the cornerstones of development and progress. With this MoU, we are highlighting not only the importance of vaccines and medicines - which are obviously vital in the fight against specific diseases - but also the importance of national health systems. These include emergency care, patient care, maternity care, laboratories, well-trained doctors and nurses, but also prevention. This is the only way to really improve the health of the population in Africa. I am therefore delighted that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is stepping up its collaboration with the Belgian agency Enabel and the Institute of Tropical Medicine to help strengthen these systems. This approach will strengthen our joint efforts against infectious diseases such as malaria and sleeping sickness".

Bill Gates for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation :“Our partnership is working to end malaria and address other neglected tropical diseases that disproportionately affect the world’s most vulnerable people. The Government of Belgium and the Gates Foundation share a commitment to ensuring that more people have access to quality care and innovative tools that protect their health and enable them to thrive.

Belgium, a key partner for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

This new memorandum of understanding between the Belgian government and the Gates Foundation follows on from their previous five-year agreement from February 2018 to February 2023. The partnership was aimed at combating HAT through a program run by the Institute of Tropical Medicine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the region most affected by the disease worldwide.

The efforts successfully carried out to date by Belgium and the Foundation will therefore be continued as the total eradication of the disease by 2030 remains a priority objective for the World Health Organization (WHO).

Leading Belgian players for implementation

The renewed partnership between the foundation and the Belgian government runs until 2028, and will be implemented locally via Belgian development partners: on the one hand, the Belgian development agency Enabel, and on the other, the Institute of Tropical Medicine, whose scientific expertise in the fight against sleeping sickness is recognized worldwide. This strengthened collaboration also remains open to other Belgian development cooperation sectors.

Through them, Belgium will provide technical assistance to national and local African partners to strengthen their capacities and ensure that local, bilateral and multilateral investments are used effectively and efficiently. The Gates Foundation and the Belgian government will strive to match this joint collaboration through financial and/or in-kind contributions.

Photos of the signing ceremony

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