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Bill Gates, In New Orleans, Pledges Millions To Fight Ebola And Malaria

Thousands of scientists from around the world jammed into a New Orleans hotel ballroom to hear remarks by former Microsoft President Bill Gates about medical advances his foundation is funding to stop contagious diseases. Some who could not attend were also cheered by their colleagues.

The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s annual meeting drew researchers from more than 100 countries to review what’s being done to fight contagious diseases.

The Ebola outbreak prevented a few from attending. Louisiana said anyone recently in an Ebola-affected region should stay away — or face a 21-day quarantine to be sure they are not infected.

Society President Alan Magill:

“I regret the absence of several of our key members from, essentially our US government services — the CDC, the military, the army and the navy, who have been unable to attend this meeting and many others because of the ongoing federal employee and travel restrictions.”   

He said fears about the diseases are real, but protocols are in place to protect the public.

“We do this by enabling our young men and women to travel and work in these affected areas," Magill said. "These individuals need to be recognized as the heroes they are, not stigmatized or banned from coming home.”  

Gates announced a 30 percent increase in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fight several diseases around the world, primarily malaria.  

“There’s a meaningful chance that we’ll have an epidemic that will be even worse — more transmissive than this is," Gates said, "And so it’s important that we take lessons from this epidemic and double-down our efforts to be ready to deal with this kind of challenge.” 

Panel discussions will be held this week on how the Ebola epidemic — and others — are being handled.

Eileen is a news reporter and producer for WWNO. She researches, reports and produces the local daily news items. Eileen relocated to New Orleans in 2008 after working as a writer and producer with the Associated Press in Washington, D.C. for seven years.

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