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Budget Cuts Would Set Back Progress In Health, Bill Gates Says

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Silicon Valley magnate and philanthropist Bill Gates warned that proposed cuts to the United States’ budget could greatly set back the progress that has been made in reducing global poverty and disease, leading to five million deaths from AIDS alone.

Gates’s organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is one of the world’s biggest funders for advances in global health and development. Gates said that there is “more doubt than usual about the world’s commitment to development,” Reuters reports.

A global health report from the Gates Foundation, authored in partnership with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington (IHME), examined the current track against diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

The report likewise looked at poverty rates, maternal and infant deaths, access to contraception and sanitation, and other issues prevalent in health and development. In forecasting both good and bad scenarios, the report found that the world leans more towards the latter, with millions of lives at stake.

Gates said that while there has been remarkable progress in recent decades, this current season of instability, shifting priorities and looming budget cuts could hamper all headway, compromising the major works that have been done.

For example, HIV, which Gates call an “iconic example,” infects almost 37 million people around the world. But advances in medicine and technology have allowed for the problem to be addressed, “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 analysis, called the Goalkeepers report, predicts that a 10% drop in global donor funding for HIV treatment could result in over five million more deaths by 2030.

Budget proposals from President Donald Trump in May showed a 24% cut for global health programs, or a drop to $6.5 billion for 2018. However, opposition Democrats and even fellow Republicans have vocally opposed the move.

Gates added that the foundation continues to lobby against these proposed cuts, and remains hopeful that global health and development efforts remain properly funded.

 

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