Citing progress towards immunization and against polio, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis, the Gates reminded the audience and the American public that less than one percent of the entire federal budget goes to global health concerns. Even with such a small investment, increased immunizations have prevented the deaths of 3.4 million children in less than 10 years. Polio is on the verge of being eradicated, and incidence rates have declined by 99 percent over the past 20 years. Since 2000, malaria deaths have declined by half in 25 countries. Funding from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has saved over 1.2 million lives over the past five years. And tuberculosis programs in 2009 treated 38 percent more cases than in the year prior.
While Bill and Melinda Gates say they are pleased with the progress, there is still much to be done, and they labeled themselves as “impatient optimists.” Telling the audience, “We are asking you to help advocate for a new way of thinking and talking about global health,” the Gates encouraged Americans to recognize the importance of these programs and the need for continued funding increases from the U.S. and other governments.