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Zuma, Branson Collaborate To Establish Disease Control Center In South Africa

South African President Jacob Zuma and Virgin Group founder and chair Richard Branson “intend [on] establishing a disease control centre in South Africa as soon as next year,” SAPA/The Times reports. “Branson said the initiative, expected to be launched by March, would be 50 percent private and 50 percent government funded,” the news service writes (7/22).

Branson and Zuma “said in a statement Wednesday they had discussed jointly establishing the equivalent of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More talks will be held to refine the idea,” the AP/Boston Herald writes (7/22). In addition to providing a central location for research and information on epidemic diseases, the center aims “to enhance the government’s ability to respond more effectively to health emergencies,” the Financial Times writes. The newspaper reports that the initial budget for the center is set at “up to $20 million.”

“[This] is a critical initiative to help stop needless suffering from diseases such as tuberculosis, AIDS and other health conditions that have needlessly killed large numbers of people and hampered the growth of this incredible country,” said Branson, who is partly funding the center. Zuma “said the new centre would be ‘an innovative and needed resource to help strengthen our health system and health information'” (Lapper, 7/22). SAPA/The Times writes, “Zuma echoed Branson’s ideals that a centre of this nature was a good start, and that its benefits would be felt by sub-Saharan countries” (7/22).