Bill Gates and former President Bill Clinton have called for continued U.S. investment in efforts to fight AIDS, malaria, and other diseases in underdeveloped nations, noting that such investments save lives and play a vital role in improving America's image abroad, the Associated Press reports.
In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, Clinton, who heads the William J. Clinton Foundation, and Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, pushed for continued support of government programs that address infectious and preventable diseases. Lawmakers invited the two philanthropists to discuss how the private sector has addressed global health problems and whether the U.S. government can afford continued foreign aid.
President Obama is asking for $8.5 billion in the State Department's 2011 budget to expand the Global Health Initiative. His budget proposal increases funding to treat and prevent HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases and improve maternal and child health.
Helping the world's poorest citizens tackle their health problems is "intrinsically good for America's foreign policy," Clinton told the committee. "When people think you care whether their kids live or die, they like you pretty well, and they cut you a lot of slack," he said. "You can disagree with them on a lot of things because they know you care whether their kids live or die. This is not complicated."