Let me cut to the chase. There’s a program that has helped save the lives of 17 million people in poor countries since 2002. It’s called the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria. It’s poised to do even more good in the years ahead, but to continue its work, it needs donors to make new funding pledges.
I just got back from Europe, which is starting to think through many tough decisions surrounding Brexit. Despite that challenge, the governments of France and Italy became the latest to make commitments to the Global Fund, building on recent pledges from Japan, Canada, the United States, and the European Commission. When I was in London, a senior member of the British government confirmed to Parliament that they remain committed to the Global Fund’s success. Although I’m confident the Global Fund will raise the money it needs—donors have consistently recognized that it’s an effective and low-cost way to save lives—we are not there yet.
Since the Global Fund started, Melinda and I have committed $1.6 billion to it. Here are four reasons why we are such big believers:
The Global Fund raises money in three-year batches; the current batch will cover the years 2017-19. They’re asking for $13 billion, which will go toward delivering lifesaving drugs and bed nets as well as developing new tools like better diagnostics and next-generation prevention techniques. To put that number in context, it’s about 3 percent of the total foreign aid that rich countries give over three years. And consider the payoff: By one estimate, the $13 billion raised by the Global Fund will generate about $300 billion in economic benefits.
It is never easy to raise large sums of money like this, and it certainly isn’t easy now, with the refugee crisis in Europe compounding an already difficult global economy. Although I don’t think anyone would argue that fighting disease will directly end wars or stop the flow of refugees, improving health certainly makes countries more stable and more prosperous—and less likely to spread disease and instability to their neighbors.
If you want to save and improve lives, health is one of the most effective investments you can make. And if you want to improve health, the Global Fund is one of the most effective investments you can make. It is one of the kindest things people have ever done for one another, and I am inspired by the countries and leaders who are stepping up to support it.