Bill Gates Urges Obama To Increase U.S. Foreign Assistance for Global Health
Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on Wednesday urged President-elect Barack Obama to fulfill his pledge to double U.S. foreign assistance to $50 billion by the end of his first term for global health and other issues, the Washington Post reports. Speaking at George Washington University, Gates said that the U.S. must sustain funding for fighting disease abroad or recent advancements in global health could be reversed, adding, "In a crisis, there is always a risk that you take your eyes off the future and you sacrifice long-term investments for short-term gains. You have to seek both." In addition, Gates said that the current financial crisis could be an opportunity for innovation. "Difficult times can launch great ideas," he said (Rucker, Washington Post, 12/4).
According to CNN.com, Obama on his Web site has committed to increase foreign aid investment to $50 billion by the end of his first term to fund debt cancellation for developing nations, address HIV/AIDS and fight global poverty. Gates said he believes that Obama will follow through on this pledge, adding that Congress will need to vote for final funding decisions (Mooney, CNN.com, 12/3). Although the current economic situation might have "changed some people's view of what we can afford," if the U.S. "can support the president as he stands by his pledge to the poorest nations -- even in the face of our own financial crisis -- it will make a phenomenal statement about the kind of partner America plans to be in the world," Gates said. He added that the U.S. could "make the most of this downturn and the budget scrutiny that comes with it" by selectively cutting some aid programs while expanding others (Guth, Wall Street Journal, 12/4).
When asked about his legacy in 15 years, Gates said he hopes his foundation can spur "dramatic improvement in global health" and contribute to "dramatic reduction in disease in many of the top areas: malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS, childhood diseases" (Washington Post, 12/4).