Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates says that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation lost about one fifth of its total value in last year's stock meltdown, but he plans to increase the amount of money he's spending on vaccine and other initiatives this year. In an open letter, the fulltime philanthropist promised to shell out $3.8 billion this year, seven percent of the foundation's wealth and a significant increase over the $3.3 billion spent last year.
Gates highlighted the foundation's success in helping advance a late-stage malaria vaccine, an ongoing effort on HIV/AIDS and an ambitiopus effort to rid the world of polio. But the Seattle Times notes that Gates billions have earned widespread criticism, as well. Scientists and others in the health field say that the Gates Foundation should be more open than it has been about its efforts and goals.
"I would hope he would expand it to be a two-way conversation, and to meet with folks, including grass-roots organizations," says Pablo Eisenberg, senior fellow at the Center for Public & Nonprofit Leadership at Georgetown University.
Gates says that is what the open letter is all about.
"Soon after Warren Buffett made his incredible gift, which doubled the resources of the foundation, he encouraged me to follow his lead by writing an annual letter," wrote Gates. "I won't be quoting Mae West or trying to match his humor, but I will try to be equally candid."