Bill and Melinda Gates are calling on donor governments to support international funds focused on fighting disease and poverty as one of the best investments in global security and economic growth, Reuters and Business Insider report.
In a conference call with reporters, the co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — a major funder of global health programs — said that while eliminating infectious disease epidemics has proven difficult, progress made possible by global aid mechanisms has led to a halving since 1990 of mortality rates of children under the age of 5, as well as of the number of all deaths due to HIV, malaria, and measles. To ensure that that work continues, the couple urged wealthy nations such as the United States, Australia, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom to replenish four key funds over the next eighteen months — the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the Global Financing Facility for child and maternal health, and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance.
The Gateses, whose foundation has invested approximately $10 billion in the four funds, said they believe that if the organizations don't receive the cash infusions they're asking for, the opportunity to eradicate certain diseases will slip away. "In the early 2000s...it looked like people might give up [on polio], which if you do give up, then the disease comes back," said Bill Gates.
Gates said he was optimistic that wealthy donor governments remain committed to funding international aid for poor countries but that "[w]e never want to take it for granted, because...just one [donor] country dropping back could cost hundreds of thousands of lives."
"We are seeing that HIV rates are down, malaria deaths are down, and more children are surviving. So, it is a hugely good news story," Melinda Gates told Business Insider. "But sometimes people will then think, 'Well, is the job done?' We have got to make these investments or we are going to see more death, more disease, and more instability in the world. And that's going to show up on the doorstep of the U.S. and in Europe."