The two richest men in the world joined forces on Monday for the cause of delivering basic preventative health care to marginalized populations of the Americas. Carlos Slim, Mexican telecom tycoon and founder of Instituto Carlos Slim de la Salud, and Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft and co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will join the Spanish government in each donating $50 million to the 2015 Meso-American Health Initiative for a total of $150 million.
The initiative was announced at the Museo Nacional de Antropologia in Mexico City. It will target Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama. The health figures among these countries are staggering: 600,000 infants suffer from malnutrition, 500,000 of them do not have access to vaccination and 10 million adults and children are at high risk of disease. Over five years, the initiative aims to improve nutrition and maternal health and distribute vaccinations against dengue fever and malaria to 20 percent of the poorest population, or about 14 million individuals.
This project is the largest of its kind to specifically address the health needs of the indigenous populations in Mexico and Central America, particularly women and children. An influx of on-the0ground health care investments, combined with the usual media storm that accompanies Slim and Gates, have the potential to drastically change the health conditions for the most marginalized populations in the region.