Inside Billionaire Bill Gates’ trip to Tanzania

PUBLISHED: Tue, 22 Aug 2017 16:12:42 GMT

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – Bill Gates announced a $15 million investment to help digitise Tanzania’s health information systems and improve health data in the country. Gates congratulated members of the government of Tanzania on leading a drive to incorporate digital health and data into their policy framework.

Photo: Zuma Press/RealTime Images

Philanthropist Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, visited Tanzania earlier this month, to learn more about the country’s development priorities. The foundation believes that the effective use of data is a fundamental building block in creating robust health systems. Bill met with the foundation’s key partners in Tanzania, including government officials (among others, the Tanzanian President John Magufuli), health care workers and development executives, to understand how the country is increasing the use of data in its health sector.

A key focus of this visit was to see, first-hand, the progress Tanzania has made towards achieving the health sector’s data vision, including how innovative practices are delivering on this strategy. During the visit, Bill launched a new partnership with the Government of Tanzania which complements the Better Immunization Data Initiative by accelerating the use of existing data and developing strong data policy frameworks.

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Bill also meet with public and private sector stakeholders to discuss opportunities to expand the reach of digital payments. About half of Tanzania’s population have adopted mobile money technology. These meetings helped identify opportunities for expanding and deepening the use of digital payments in the country.

During the visit, Bill toured a fertiliser factory to understand local initiatives aimed at improving the supply and distribution of fertilizer to smallholder farmers. Better access to quality fertiliser and other inputs will help farmers boost staple crop and livestock productivity. This in turn will enable farmers to both feed their families and generate higher incomes. Boosting agricultural production can ensure that healthy, nutritious food is available to all. The foundation is working with a number of partners in Tanzania and elsewhere, including GAIN, UNICEF and Johns Hopkins University, to tackle issues around undernutrition in the country.

The foundation works with partners in more than 45 African countries to reduce poverty and improve health. Some of the major areas of investment include agriculture, child health and nutrition, family planning and financial services for the poor. Between 2001 and 2016, the foundation invested more than $9 billion in Africa. The foundation plans to invest an additional $5 billion by 2021.