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Gates Foundation Praises U.S. Global Health Investments, Calls For 15-Year Goal Of Cutting Child Deaths Worldwide By Nearly Half

As part of a “major push to convince the United States to maintain government spending on worldwide health initiatives, despite the financial crisis and a soaring U.S. budget deficit,” the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is urging U.S. policymakers to commit to cutting “the number of child deaths each year, from 9 million to 5 million” by 2025, CNN reports (Evans, 10/28). At a presentation in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, Bill and Melinda Gates highlighted the life-saving effects of U.S. foreign aid as part of their Living Proof Project, Reuters reports. “Dollar for dollar, global health is America’s best investment for saving lives,” Bill Gates told reporters (Fox, 10/27).

Ahead of the event, he said it was “‘a thank you, not a call for an additional investment,’ and a chance to salute the impact of such initiatives as the President’s Malaria Initiative, started by President George W. Bush in 2005 and continued by President Barack Obama,” according to Politico (Allen, 10/27).

“While aimed at policymakers, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said the effort may also influence philanthropists and other grant makers as they make hard choices about what causes to support during the recession,” the Chronicle of Philanthropy writes (Wilhelm, 10/27).

“Global health money improves lives more effectively than any other spending,” Bill Gates said at roundtable discussion about the foundation’s campaign, the Associated Press reports. “We’re seeing a lot of hope on the ground,” said Melinda Gates. But “you’re not hearing about the positive changes that are happening because of these American investments.”

“We still have 4 million children who die in the first week of life,” Melinda Gates said, explaining that tools currently exist to prevent many of these deaths (Kerr, 10/27). The foundation laid out four strategies to help reduce the number of childhood deaths each year: boosting immunization rates; fighting malaria; improving maternal and newborn care; and treating diarrhea and pneumonia, according to a Gates Foundation press release. “These are ambitious goals – but we can achieve them, if we keep investing in global health and expand programs that work,” said Bill Gates (10/27).

In an interview – Tachi Yamada, president of the foundation’s Global Health Program – highlighted maternal mortality. “There are many, many mothers who are dying at birth, many people who are not being addressed as to their biggest problems in health, and we think that this is something that is a cause of the greatest inequities in the world and should be corrected,” he said, CNN reports (10/28).

On NPR’s Morning Edition, Bill and Melinda Gates discuss the development of an HIV vaccine and responded to some common criticisms of aid to developing countries (Inskeep, 10/28). ABC News also features an interview with the Gateses about the Living Proof Project (Dwyer, 10/27).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.