Meeting with health experts and officials in India, Bill Gates said he worries that the global financial crisis could result in rich countries cutting back on public health aid to the developing world and urged donor countries to honor their commitments, Reuters reports.
According to Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world's poorest people will suffer the most during the economic slowdown and need a "strong voice" to keep them a global priority. "We certainly are concerned that some of the rich world governments could either reduce their increase [for 2009 and beyond] or even cut back the amount they spend on these issues," said Gates, who is in India to discuss polio eradication and fighting HIV/AIDS. "We have to admit that getting that generosity gets even more challenging when there are tough economic times."
While Gates said the United States likely will undergo a period of "economic contraction" lasting two to three years, he was optimistic about President-elect Barack Obama's efforts to tackle global health issues. "[He has] shown a lot of interest," Gates said, "[and would] drive improvements in those areas."