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Invest in health for global security: Gates to donors

Reuters London | Updated on January 17, 2019

Bill and Melinda Gates   -  AP

Donating billions of dollars to global funds that fight poverty and disease is one of the best investments governments can make to boost security and economic growth, philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates said on Thursday.

Ending epidemics of infectious diseases such as malaria, polio, HIV and malaria is proving tough, they said, but dramatic progress made by global aid mechanisms recent decades means the world’s people are now healthier and more productive.

“The data has been really striking,” said Melinda Gates.

She cited figures from the World Health Organisation and others showing that since 1990, under-five mortality rates have fallen by more than 50 per cent, and deaths due to infectious diseases like HIV, malaria and measles have also halved.

“A child born today is half as likely to die before the age of five, compared with if she was born in 2000,” Melinda Gates said. “The human and economic benefits of this are enormous.”

The Gates Foundation seeks to encourage international donor governments such as the US, Japan, Australia, Germany, Britain and many others to replenish four key global funds in the next 18 months so they can continue their work.

Domestic issues

The funds include the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) and the GAVI vaccines alliance and the Global Financing Facility for child and maternal health.

Bill Gates said he was optimistic that wealthy donor governments remain committed to funding international aid for poor countries, but added: “We never want to take it for granted, because ... just one (donor) country dropping back could cost hundreds of thousands of lives.”

He also said he was concerned that “distraction by domestic issues” may mean the still urgent need for global aid funding may not get the attention it deserves.

Published on January 17, 2019

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