Imagine you found out that a plague was going to wipe out the entire population of Paris tomorrow—all 10 million people. Obviously you would want the world to do everything possible to save their lives.
The stakes are just as high in global health. Over the next 15 years, for example, the world can prevent 10 million people from dying of tuberculosis:
Although it is on a different time scale as saving Paris tomorrow, morally it is the same.
I got these numbers from a study in The Lancet by economists who looked at what would happen with increased investment in global health. (It was funded by the Gates Foundation.) For tuberculosis, that means putting particular focus on diagnosing all strains of the disease and connecting people to the best forms of treatment. I’ll write about the amount of investment required later this summer, but the report’s conclusion is clear: Investing in health is extremely effective, and one of the best ways to help people in poor countries get out of the poverty trap.
In fact the study shows that, with the right investments, we can close the health gap between rich and poor countries—meaning that every country in the world will have child-mortality rates that are as low as the rate in America or the United Kingdom in 1980. That would be one of the humanity’s greatest accomplishments ever.
These issues will be high on the agenda in September, when the United Nations adopts a set of goals about what should be done for the poor over the next 15 years. The U.N. did this once before, in 2000, and it did an amazing job of focusing the world on key measures of human welfare. With the added attention that these new goals will bring to global health and what I hope will be more funding to help meet them, we can save millions of lives and make unprecedented progress by 2030.
If you want to learn more about the U.N.’s goals for 2030 and what you can do to help, I’d encourage you to become a Global Citizen.
If you’d like to read more about this topic, you might want to check out this piece I wrote for Quartz.