Public Health

Bill And Melinda Gates Have A New Message For Americans

Courtesy of Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep, we have a preview of Bill and Melinda Gates' big talk tonight in Washington, D.C., before lawmakers, administration officials and foreign policy experts. The Gateses are in town to drum up government support for global health initiatives, as well as promote their new Living Proof Project.

Sen. Harry Reid. i i

Bill and Melinda Gates at the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Courtesy Gates Foundation hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy Gates Foundation
Sen. Harry Reid.

Bill and Melinda Gates at the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Courtesy Gates Foundation

"Out of 6 billion people, there's about 2 billion that are still outside of that positive cycle of improvement and need the generosity of the U.S. government to get on it," Bill Gates told Inskeep.

A big problem with foreign aid, they told Inskeep, was that Americans don't know that aid does make a difference. "When we travel in places like Africa, we see incredible changes, and incredible signs of hope — particularly in the area of AIDS or childhood vaccinations," said Melinda Gates. But most Americans, she said, have no idea that their money is having an impact at all. "We hear more the negative stories, and we want to make sure people understand, no, these have been incredible investments."

Through the Living Proof Project, the Gateses want to get the word out about the success stories they see. And hopefully, said Bill Gates, "get that 2 billion down to 1 billion and eventually have it so each country is taking care of itself."

The couple are outlining tonight specific goals for global health aid — and the methods for achieving those goals. Top on their list is cutting childhood deaths in half worldwide by 2025, i.e. from 9 million to 5 million in 15 years. Their foundation believes it can make that happen through vaccinations, fighting malaria, better maternity and neonatal care, and providing treatments for illnesses such as diarrhea and pneumonia.

The main message they want to get across to Americans? People in developing countries want the same things Americans do for their children, starting with good health.

The Gateses are speaking tonight, invitation only (sorry!) at Sidney Harman Hall in Washington, D.C. But you can listen to a live Webcast at livingproofproject.org, starting at 7 p.m. EST. And you can get more of Inskeep's interview by tuning in tomorrow to Morning Edition.

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