Today marks the tenth Annual Letter from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a landmark anniversary for such an influential voice in the development community. And this year’s Letter takes a slightly different tact, with Bill and Melinda Gates answering the “10 Tough Questions” they are most often asked about their work and their foundation. To commemorate a decade of notes, here are three top takeaways on global aid:
“The rate of innovation in child health is extraordinary, and the world is starting to make progress on some of the most stubborn challenges in the field.” –Bill Gates
Meaningful foreign aid investments, medical breakthroughs, and powerful new technologies have improved and continue to improve lives around the world. Since 2000, the number of children who die each year has been cut in half—from 10 million to 5 million—all because more people in developing countries have better access to basic health care services. Higher infant survival rates mean fewer families are fractured by the early death of a son, daughter, brother, or sister. Even now, investment in treating neglected tropical diseases could save 1.5 million lives across 57 countries in the next two years. Never before has the world been so healthy.
“If the U.S. cuts back on its investments abroad, people in other countries will die, and Americans will be worse off.” –Bill Gates
Life-saving progress around the world will be threatened by the cuts that the Administration has proposed to the International Affairs Budget. While Congress has shown bipartisan support for these vital programs in the past, it’s now more important than ever to double down on development. Bill Gates is correct in saying that “engaging with the world has proven over time to benefit everyone, including Americans, more than withdrawing does.” Investing in development overseas not only saves lives; it stabilizes nations, builds economies, and supports jobs both abroad and right here at home. Cutting these programs diminishes our global influence and creates a void that malicious actors might fill and exploit.
“We’d like companies to seek out more opportunities to meet the needs of people in developing countries. If our limited partnerships encourage them to see potential in new markets, we’d consider it a big success.” –Melinda Gates
By partnering with private corporations, nonprofits, foundations and the government are able to leverage unique expertise to support critical humanitarian missions. Alongside the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, U.S. government agencies like USAID, MCC, and OPIC are partnering with major companies to deliver aid while also being responsible to the taxpayer. To learn more about these partnerships, visit USGLC’s Global Impact Project, which shares powerful stories of public-private development projects across the world.
The world has come a long way since the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation released their first Letter. But challenges remain—challenges that require U.S. leadership and cooperation to overcome. So, here’s to the next ten years of bold leadership in international development.