Melinda Gates is campaigning to ensure that organizations on the frontlines of improving the health of women and children get the funding they need to continue their life-saving work, according to an op-ed Gates wrote for CNN.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative; Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria; and the Global Financing Facility (GFF) need to raise funds in the next 18 months to continue doing their work, according to the op-ed, published on Monday.
“With politicians around the world turning to the rhetoric of isolationism, I worry governments that have been reliable donors, including my own country the United States, will stop investing and let the funds run low,” wrote Gates. “This could squander the opportunity to make historic progress in the fight against disease through sustained investment in the global health funds.”
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Over the past 20 years, Gates and her husband Bill have donated over $10 billion to these organizations — but the pair say it's been worth every cent.
“These organizations are not trivial or expendable. In fact, they are probably the best investments our foundation has ever made,” said Bill.
These programs save millions of lives around the world by, for example, providing vital vaccines and health care to impoverished communities.
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has vaccinated about 700 million children, and since it was founded, the number of children under 5 years old dying in middle- and low-income countries has dropped by an estimated 40%.
The Global Fund has helped to fight HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria around the world. Health programs that have worked with the Global Fund partnership have saved 27 million lives.
“If we’re not winning the war against the diseases we're losing it,” said Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund.
Polio cases have dropped by 99.99% since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was created in 1988.
Read More: The US Must Continue Supporting Polio Eradication — And Here’s Why
But without increased funding, these organizations will be extremely limited in their ability to continue helping others achieve and maintain good health and that's not just bad for people's health — it's bad for world peace.
"I've described the impact of the global health funds in terms of lives saved. That's a pretty good metric by itself, but it's also part of something bigger: Saving lives is the first step toward a more prosperous and peaceful world," Melinda wrote.
Improving global health also makes good financial sense. Every dollar that is invested in improving global health generates about $20 in socioeconomic benefits, according to the Copenhagen Consensus Center.
“With sustained investment, the global health funds will continue to save millions upon millions of lives and pave the way for a secure and stable future,” said Melinda. “Those are the kinds of investments the world should be doubling down on.
Disclosure: Melinda Gates is the co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a funding partner of Global Citizen.
Editor's note: This piece has been updated to include a disclosure that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a funding partner of Global Citizen. We regret the oversight.