Exclusive: Gates prods D.C. on aid
By: Mike Allen
January 24, 2012 09:51 AM EST
|Bill Gates, in his annual letter from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on Tuesday night will make a full-throated appeal to policy makers - and voters - to continue to support effective aid that can lead to better lives. He believes we must build on the incredible progress in health and development, and not let excuses keep governments from helping the world's poorest. Now, more than ever, he says, we have a real opportunity to help people build self-sufficiency and overcome the need for aid. Also, not surprisingly for a man who made his fortune through innovation, he touts innovation as the key to improving the world.|
His letter describes innovations in health (vaccines, AIDS drugs) and in agriculture (disease-resistant seeds) that have transformed people's lives.
An exclusive sneak peek for POLITICO readers:
—"Throughout my careers in software and philanthropy, . a recurring theme has been that innovation is the key to improving the world. . The world faces a clear choice. If we invest relatively modest amounts, many more poor farmers will be able to feed their families. If we don't, one in seven people will continue living needlessly on the edge of starvation. My annual letter this year is an argument for making the choice to keep on helping extremely poor people build self-sufficiency."
—"[S]o many partners share our vision of an equitable world and are willing to put money behind it, even in these tough times. When people know the kind of impact their generosity has, they are not only willing but eager to help."
—On the positive impact effective foreign aid has had on the world's poorest: "The relatively small amount of money invested in development has changed the future prospects of billions of people - and it can do the same for billions more - if we make the choice to continue investing in innovation. We will repeat that message over and over.because we are convinced that when people hear stories of the lives they've helped to improve, they want to do more, not less."
—"We can help poor farmers sustainably increase their productivity so they can feed themselves and their families. By doing so, they will contribute to global food security. But that will happen only if we prioritize agricultural innovation. . It is shocking, not to mention short-sighted and potentially dangerous - how little money is spent on agricultural research."
—On global health: "[T]he success of the polio eradication program in India and 90 other countries gives me confidence that we can triumph in these final challenging countries and end polio once and for all."
— "The cost of keeping a patient on AIDS drugs has been coming down, and it looks like getting it to $300 per patient per year should be achievable. That will mean every $300 that governments invest in the Global Fund will put another person on treatment for a year. Every $300 that's not forthcoming will represent a person taken off treatment. . I believe that if people understood the choice, they would ask their government to save more lives."
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