JEDDAH, October 8, 2012: The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced a new partnership to combat communicable diseases and food insecurity in low-income countries. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by both organizations establishes a five-year framework for collaboration on agricultural development, malaria prevention and elimination, and polio eradication.
“The Islamic Development Bank is committed to catalyzing new approaches to funding economic and social development in its member countries around the world,” said IDB President Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali. “I am confident that our partnership with the Gates Foundation will also inject new resources and momentum into the fight against polio, malaria, food insecurity and other pressing development challenges.”
The partnership will initially focus on strengthening national responses to polio and providing support for the efforts of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. This challenge is particularly relevant, as the three remaining polio-endemic countries, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, are all IDB member states.
The IDB is currently working with the Gates Foundation and the Government of Pakistan to develop a US$227 million financing package to fund polio eradication activities in that country. Under the proposed arrangement, Pakistan will repay the principal amount to the bank while the Gates Foundation will provide support for the administrative costs associated with the financing package. Groundbreaking financial models like this one allow the IDB to give low-income countries access to concessionary funding for a variety of health and development initiatives that they could not otherwise obtain. IDB also plans to mobilize $12 million for Afghanistan’s polio eradication efforts on a matching-grant basis with the Gates Foundation.
“I am enthusiastic about our collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “The bank’s innovative approach to financing is helping to address some of the world’s most pressing health and development challenges, including the urgent need to end polio forever.”
By pooling multilateral and philanthropic investments, the IDB’s operating model allows it to mobilize resources from investors and non-traditional donors looking for ways to support global development that are also compliant with Islamic financing principles. Under the new partnership, the Gates Foundation and IDB aim to leverage their collective networks to engage IDB member countries, philanthropists and other organizations to provide support and resources to health and development challenges of mutual interest.
Last month, Dr. Ali and Mr. Gates joined Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other world leaders at the United Nations headquarters in New York as they called for global solidarity to win the fight against polio. The high-level event featured heads of state from each of the three polio-endemic countries, as well as major donors and partners.
The MOU was announced as Mr. Gates participated in a ‘town hall’ meeting during a visit to IDB headquarters in Jeddah, where he and staff members discussed the importance of innovative financing mechanisms for fighting global diseases and addressing food insecurity.