Gates Foundation wants global health push

<div data-recalc-dims=Dr. Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation’s global health program, highlights pregnancy-related deaths.

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Global philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates are launching a major push to convince the United States to maintain government spending on worldwide health initiatives, despite the financial crisis and a soaring U.S. budget deficit.

The Gates Foundation said it cannot solve all these problems alone, despite having a budget that is bigger than the economies of many countries, and it says it needs the help of the United States and other governments. In an interview, Melinda Gates said, “Our money is tiny,” despite the billions of dollars of resources available to her organization. Yamada reinforced that point of view in his interview with Amanpour. “The Gates Foundation is relatively new. We spend a significant amount of money in global health, but the amount of money we spend is small by comparison to the amount of money spent by the whole world and certainly by the amount of money that is needed in order to address the biggest problems in the world for mothers and children,” he said. The U.S. now spends almost $8 billion a year on global health initiatives, a total that has risen sharply since 2001. To critics of the Gates Foundation, who say it is trying to impose solutions on developing countries, Yamada responded, “We have no intention of controlling the health situations in countries. We work very closely with the World Health Organization and all other partners — certainly the governments and the health systems and in the developing part of the world. But we do feel that there are problems that can be addressed and should be addressed.” Dependence is a huge concern for many in the aid community and for African leaders who are worried about their nations’ sovereignty. Economist Dambisa Moyo, author of “Dead Aid,” has been a vocal critic of international aid policies for many years. In a CNN interview earlier this year, she said, “Even the diehard aid advocates would love to see a time when Africa can stand on its own two feet and does not need to rely on foreign assistance to provide public goods such as education, health care, infrastructure, and even security.” “I mean, we must ask the question, what type of a society is it And are we truly independent if really all these types of public goods are actually still dependent on a foreign purse And I really am aspiring for a time when we can have a serious discussion about exit strategies.”