Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has just announced on Facebook that he and his wife Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician, have made a grant of $25 million to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation in support of fighting Ebola — the deadly, viral disease that started in Africa, has infected over 8,000 people, and is spreading fast, with little in the way of a failsafe cure.
“The Ebola epidemic is at a critical turning point. It has infected 8,400 people so far, but it is spreading very quickly and projections suggest it could infect 1 million people or more over the next several months if not addressed,” he wrote. “We need to get Ebola under control in the near term so that it doesn’t spread further and become a long term global health crisis that we end up fighting for decades at large scale, like HIV or polio.
“We believe our grant is the quickest way to empower the CDC and the experts in this field to prevent this outcome.
Grants like this directly help the frontline responders in their heroic work. These people are on the ground setting up care centers, training local staff, identifying Ebola cases and much more.”
Zuckerberg and Chan have donated to other charitable causes — namely in the area of education, where their Startup:Education organization has backed companies building innovative educational platforms and services. They also donated $120 million to Bay Area schools earlier this year. The pair are considered some of the biggest philanthropists at the moment in the U.S. In 2013, their collective donations of nearly $1 billion, to educational and health/science foundations, were the biggest of the year.
With events like the Ice Bucket Challenge demonstrating that viral internet memes can extend beyond sneezing pandas and biting infants, it will be interesting to see whether another urgent cause, an actual virus, which threatens to become an even bigger health crisis than it is already, will get people buzzing.