Progress on global poverty and dis­ease at risk: Gates Fund­ing cuts could lead to mil­lions of deaths

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Pro­posed United States bud­get cuts could put in jeop­ardy great progress in re­duc­ing global poverty and dis­ease and lead to 5 mil­lion more deaths from AIDS alone, the phi­lan­thropist Bill Gates warned yes­ter­day. Gates, whose Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion is a ma­jor provider of global health and de­vel­op­ment fund­ing, said there was cur­rently “more doubt than usual about the world’s com­mit­ment to de­vel­op­ment”.

A global health re­port by the foun­da­tion, co-au­thored by the Gates and the Institute for Health Met­rics and Eval­u­a­tion at the Univer­sity of Wash­ing­ton (IHME), an­a­lyzed progress against dis­eases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and tu­ber­cu­lo­sis. It also tracked rates of poverty, ma­ter­nal and in­fant death, ac­cess to con­tra­cep­tion, san­i­ta­tion and other de­vel­op­ment is­sues. Fore­cast­ing good and bad fu­ture sce­nar­ios, it found mil­lions of lives hang­ing in the bal­ance.

In a tele­phone brief­ing about the find­ings, Gates, the co-founder of Mi­crosoft Cor­po­ra­tion, said re­mark­able progress had been made in re­cent decades but that shift­ing pri­or­i­ties, in­sta­bil­ity and po­ten­tial bud­get cuts could lead the world to turn away, jeop­ar­diz­ing the gains. HIV, which cur­rently in­fects al­most 37 mil­lion peo­ple world­wide, is an “iconic ex­am­ple”, Gates said, “be­cause the world re­ally did step up with an in­cred­i­ble level of gen­eros­ity which has meant (an­nual) AIDS-re­lated deaths have fallen by al­most a half since the peak in 2005.” The Gates IHME anal­y­sis, called the Goal­keep­ers re­port, forecast that a 10 per­cent cut in global donor fund­ing for HIV treat­ment could mean more than 5 mil­lion ex­tra deaths by 2030.

Un­der bud­get pro­pos­als from US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­leased in May, US fund­ing for global health pro­grams in­clud­ing ef­forts on HIV/AIDS, tu­ber­cu­lo­sis and malaria would see a 24 per­cent cut to about $6.5 bil­lion for 2018. But op­po­si­tion Democrats and many of Trump’s fel­low Repub­li­cans have blasted his plan, say­ing they will re­ject it. Congress, not the ad­min­is­tra­tion, con­trols US spend­ing. Gates said his foun­da­tion is work­ing hard to se­cure con­tin­ued US govern­ment fund­ing for global health and de­vel­op­ment and re­mained hope­ful the pro­posed cuts will not be ap­proved. —Reuters

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