SEATTLE, July 8 /PRNewswire/ --

- Foundation announces additional US$150 million for Polio Eradication

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation released the following statement regarding the G8 Summit:

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation welcomes the renewed commitment by leaders of the Group of Eight countries to address some of the world's most pressing health and development challenges. There is now a critical test for G8 governments: to follow through on the commitments announced this year, and in previous years, by translating what they have agreed into actual financial outlays that support the efforts of poor countries and communities to overcome poverty and disease. The course will be difficult but, given the increased pressure on the world's poorest from global energy and food market prices, the need for action is especially urgent. The G8 leaders have again called on the private and non-governmental sectors to help governments address the development and health challenges. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation stands ready to work with G8 governments and our other public and private partners to fulfill these important promises.

The foundation supports the G8's expanded vision for strengthening health systems, its continued commitment to fight infectious disease, and its recognition of the importance of water and sanitation to development and health outcomes. We welcome the new focus on accountability regarding prior aid commitments. The G8 have created an important new mechanism that allows past and current spending on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and polio to be tracked and monitored transparently. We urge the G8 to strengthen this accountability mechanism next year by expanding the concept to include not only future spending plans but also other G8 commitments in global development.

The foundation welcomes the G8's important renewal of their commitment to meet or exceed their previous financial contributions to polio eradication. We strongly encourage all the G8 countries to translate their Hokkaido and Gleneagles polio commitments into real financial resources and focused action. We will work with the international community, including the four polio endemic countries, to reach our shared objective of early eradication.

In recognition of the G8's continued attention to polio eradication, the foundation will commit at least US$150 million to fight polio this year. This is in addition to the US$250 million we have committed to date toward polio eradication efforts. We will continue to work closely with governments and with the private and non-governmental sectors to ensure that, together, we fulfill the political and financial commitments necessary to eradicate this disease.

The foundation commends the G8's enhanced commitment to tackle neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), which affect one billion of the world's poorest citizens. We hope the G8's pledge today will be followed by robust financial commitments over the next year. In this vein, we hope the G8 also will add NTDs to the G8 financial tracking mechanism. We stand ready to work with the G8 and other actors to develop a concrete program of investments that all sectors of the international community can support.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation applauds the G8's focus on food security and agricultural development. Importantly, the G8 recognizes that addressing the emergency food crisis requires not only immediate financial resources for food assistance but also that the world's major donors focus their attention and financial resources on longer term agricultural development, an area that has experienced a dramatic decline in resources over the past two decades.

We therefore strongly support the G8's commitment to investing in longer term agricultural development and its particular focus on increasing agricultural productivity in Africa. The foundation has committed over US$700 million to agricultural development, including support for the establishment of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, and we are focusing our efforts on small scale farmers, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. In that regard, we appreciate the G8's focus on small scale agriculture, and its reference to the need for increased research and development and the training of developing country scientists.

We look forward to working with developing country farmers, scientists and governments, G8 and other donors, multilateral organizations, the private sector, and the non-governmental community to tackle the pressing problems facing small-scale farmers throughout the developing world, which have been made even more acute as the result of the current food crisis. We hope the G8's commitments this year are matched by the very real financial resources that will be needed to accomplish these important goals.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation appreciates the Japanese Government's leadership at this year's G8 summit. We look forward to working with all the G8 governments and other actors on the critical task of translating the important commitments made this year into the tangible financial investments needed to advance global health and development.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people - especially those with the fewest resources - have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, the foundation is led by CEO Patty Stonesifer and co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

Media Relations Department, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, +1-206-709-3400,