Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mr. and Mrs. Gates goes to Washington

Bill and Melinda Gates are beginning to do some lobbying on behalf of the world's poor. They are urging Washington's policymakers to continue funding US aid programs.

In a speech made at the capitol today, the Gateses were armed with charts, PowerPoint slides, and videos that show what US aid has accomplished in recent years, and what it could continue to accomplish.

From CNET, writer Ina Fried watched the web cast of the presentation.

"When it comes to global health, Bill and I are optimists--but we're impatient optimists," Melinda Gates said in a statement ahead of a speech on Tuesday. "The world is getting better, but it's not getting better for everyone, and it's not getting better fast enough."

Melinda Gates pointed to a program in South Africa where antiviral treatments are helping those living with HIV, but she said that for every two getting the treatment, there are five others that are missing out.

"That's the kind of thing that makes us impatient optimists," she said.

In his speech, Bill Gates noted that the U.S. government has increased its spending on global health each of the last 10 years and said that the investment is paying off.

"We're here to say two words you don't often hear about government programs," Bill Gates said. "Thank you."

He pointed to what he called the most beautiful picture he had ever seen--a chart of childhood deaths worldwide that shows death falling by more than half since 1960, when 20 million kids a year died annually.

But, he said, even the current level of 9 million childhood deaths a year is too many. Gates called on policymakers to commit to reducing by nearly half the number of children that die each year, from the present level of 9 million per year to less than 5 million by 2025.

"U.S. support has already helped to reduce deaths of young children by more than 50 percent in the past 50 years," Bill Gates said in a statement ahead of the speech. "If we keep up our commitment, it's possible to cut child mortality in half again--just 15 years from now. What's more, we can do it with proven interventions that already exist."

No comments: