Since 1999, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given close to $10 billion to four public health organizations. The four are:
- Gavi, focused on childhood vaccines
- the Global Polio Eradication Initiative
- the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria
- the Global Financing Facility, focused on maternal and child health
The Gates Foundation is today highlighting that total investment in the four as it makes a new push to rally support for funding for the organizations, the large majority of which is provided by governments.
“Over the next 18 months, all four of these are kind of at a critical point where the level of distraction by domestic issues or issues that are confined to the rich world do make us somewhat concerned that the great success story here and the need to renew these resources may not get the attention it deserves,” said Bill Gates during a call for journalists. The Global Fund is this year seeking $14 billion in “replenishment” funding, a periodic fundraising to allow it to continue operating. The other organizations have replenishment cycles coming up.
“If we look back to 1999, I think Bill and I would have definitely been surprised” to have put so much money in these four organizations, said Melinda Gates. Roughly one in every five dollars in Gates Foundation funding goes to the four. The Gates Foundation endowment was $50.7 billion as of its most recent disclosure, in December 2017.
“But the thing that we have seen is the incredible progress that these pooled funds made,” she said. She noted that a child born today is half as likely to die before the age of five, than if that child was born in 2000.
Setting out in 1999, “we would have thought that we were going to do mostly upstream R&D creation,” Bill Gates added. “But the idea that there were already vaccines like rotavirus being used in rich world countries that weren’t getting out and that we had to show that things could get out before it made sense for new things to be invented, that was a surprise to us.”
Mark Suzman, the chief strategy officer of the Gates Foundation and its president for global policy and advocacy, said in an interview that “the headwinds right now are just stronger than they have ever been” when it comes to securing government funding for the global health organizations.
“It’s basically the political headwinds, in Europe, the United States, and also Japan,” he added. And if the funding is not secured, “quite simply, there will be more deaths,” said Suzman, since children will go unvaccinated and other treatments won’t be available.