Bill Gates praises Bihar govt for efforts to fight poverty, disease

Bill Gates said only a few places have been able to surpass the achievements made by Bihar. (Photo: Bloomberg)

Bill Gates, billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder, on Sunday praised Bihar government's progress in fighting poverty and disease in the last 20 years, saying only few places have been able to surpass the achievements made by the state.

The co-chair and trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who is on a visit to Bihar, said this at a meeting with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar here.

"Over the past 20 years, few places have made more progress against poverty and disease than Bihar. Compared to her mother born two decades ago, a child born today in Bihar is twice more likely to reach her fifth birthday," a press release quoted Bill Gates as saying.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was committed to working with the state government to ensure health and education for all children, the release said.

The state government also announced its commitment for continued partnership with the foundation to find solutions to the state's critical health and development goals.

"Now, we have to make sure that all children are able to grow up healthy and get a good education. And our foundation remains committed to working with the state government to make that happen," the release said.

Commenting on the interaction, Kumar expressed happiness with the collaboration as it would help improve public health services.

"We are pleased with our collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to improve public health services, community-level behaviour change, scaling up innovation across health, nutrition and agriculture.

"Bihar is keen to continue partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to further strengthen sustainable systems across departments like health, social welfare, agriculture, empowerment of women and rural development," the chief minister said.

The discussion also focused on giving priorities to structural reforms in the health sector with a need to strengthen primary health care by building a robust, resilient and responsive health system in Bihar, the release said.

Elaborating on the "impressive" progress made by Bihar, the release mentioned decisive actions towards reforming the state health system through creation of a Public Health Management Cadre for delivering good quality clinical care and bringing more administrative and management capacity into public health.

Gates was apprised of the chief minister's flagship programme "Jal-Jivan-Hariyali", an inter-departmental effort to combat the effects of climate change.

The chief minister was accompanied by his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi, health minister Mangal Pandey and key officials during the meeting.