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Buffett’s Gift of Wealth Will Aid Efforts to Cure Diseases

This is Shep O'Neal with the VOA Special English Development Report.

The decision by investor Warren Buffett to give away most of his wealth has raised the hopes of public health officials especially. The biggest gift will go to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. More than sixty percent of its giving last year went to projects related to health.

The Gates Foundation is known, among other things, for supporting the development of drugs for AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases. But there is also demand for more money for projects that aim to save lives now instead of in the future.

The foundation will receive yearly gifts of stock. The first gift next month will be worth about one and one-half thousand million dollars. The charity organization gave away almost as much last year.

Mister Buffett’s gift is expected to double the size of the foundation, already the largest in the world. It is currently valued at thirty thousand million dollars.

Bill and Melinda Gates say they will use the gift announced last week to strengthen their work in world health and education. Mister Gates said: “There is no reason we can't cure the top twenty diseases."

The foundation began in nineteen ninety-four as the William H. Gates Foundation. At first, its efforts were mostly within the United States. Today, in developing countries, it works to improve health, reduce poverty and increase the use of technology in public libraries.

The foundation has spent six thousand million dollars to fight diseases in developing countries. Melinda Gates says there is work now to bring a new drug to India and Bangladesh to fight what is known as black fever.

The foundation also supports efforts in the United States to improve education and expand technology in libraries.

Mister Gates recently announced that he will withdraw from his daily responsibilities at Microsoft by July of two thousand eight. He will remain chairman of the computer software company, but wants to spend more time on his foundation.

Warren Buffett is the world’s second wealthiest person after his friend Bill Gates. Mister Buffett's gift is larger than the economies of many small nations. Some of his money will go to foundations led by his three children.

These groups support efforts including family planning programs and campaigns against nuclear weapons. Other issues include the environment, education and human rights.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Brianna Blake. Transcripts and audio are at This is Shep O'Neal.