Millions Could Die If Foreign Aid Is Cut, Gates Foundation Warns

LONDON, Sep 13: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation issued a stark warning this morning: if governments, particularly the U.S., were to cut their foreign aid budgets, millions of people would die from HIV, childhood illnesses, childbirth, and malaria.
Most of the report is worded in the foundation’s typical, glass-half-full language – Bill & Melinda like to call themselves “impatient optimists” – but it gives clear numbers showing the terrible result if current programs aren’t supported. Those numbers are bracing. Take, for instance, in HIV.
The report is really “an opportunity is to say don’t rest on your laurels,” says Susan Desmond-Hellmann, the foundation’s chief executive. “Things are better, but you could end up that if you had a 10% budget cut you could put 5 million lives in jeopardy. It’s really stark to put it in those terms.” Global HIV deaths peaked in 2005 at about 0.3 per 1,000 people. That rate has since been cut by a third, thanks in large part to a U.S. program called the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which provide prevention services and antiretroviral drugs. If funding increases, Gates’ modelers say, the death rate could decrease to 0.06 per 1,000 people, back where it was before the AIDS epidemic was in full swing. But if it is cut, it could increase to 0.19 per 1,000 people, close to that 2000 level. (Agencies)