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Progress on global poverty and disease at risk, Gates says
September 13, 2017 / 6:50 AM / 7 days ago

Progress on global poverty and disease at risk, Gates says

Liseth, 40, sits in her home next to a sign which reads 'Welcome Liseth, we all love you, God is with you, be strong'. She was diagnosed with tuberculosis six months ago whilst being treated for leukemia. Carabayllo in Lima, Peru September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

London, September 13 (Reuters) - Proposed United States budget cuts could put in jeopardy great progress in reducing global poverty and disease and lead to 5 million more deaths from AIDS alone, the philanthropist Bill Gates warned on Wednesday.

Gates, whose Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a major provider of global health and development funding, said there was currently “more doubt than usual about the world’s commitment to development”.

A global health report by the foundation, co-authored by the Gates and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington (IHME), analysed progress against diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

It also tracked rates of poverty, maternal and infant death, access to contraception, sanitation and other development issues. Forecasting good and bad future scenarios, it found millions of lives hanging in the balance.

In a telephone briefing about the findings, Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, said remarkable progress had been made in recent decades but that shifting priorities, instability and potential budget cuts could lead the world to turn away, jeopardising the gains.

Tennis - US Open - Semifinals - New York, U.S. - September 8, 2017 - Bill Gates attends the Kevin Anderson of South Africa and Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain match. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

HIV, which currently infects almost 37 million people worldwide, is an “iconic example”, Gates said, “because the world really did step up with an incredible level of generosity which has meant (annual) AIDS-related deaths have fallen by almost a half since the peak in 2005.”

A man, who supports a drug-buying network and takes generic drugs himself to prevent HIV infection, shows off some of his generic drugs at his home in central London, Britain November 3, 2016. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/File Photo

The Gates IHME analysis, called the Goalkeepers report, forecast that a 10 percent cut in global donor funding for HIV treatment could mean more than 5 million extra deaths by 2030.

Under budget proposals from U.S. President Donald Trump released in May, U.S. funding for global health programs including efforts on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria would see a 24 percent cut to about $6.5 billion for 2018.

But opposition Democrats and many of Trump’s fellow Republicans have blasted his plan, saying they will reject it. Congress, not the administration, controls U.S. spending.

Gates said his foundation is working hard to secure continued U.S. government funding for global health and development and remained hopeful the proposed cuts will not be approved.

Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Angus MacSwan

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