Jan 17, 2019

2. Gates: World's youngest are being saved by global health funds

Data: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios 

Global health funds play a key role in improving the world's health — with the deaths of children under 5 dropping by more than 50% over the past couple decades when investment strengthened, Melinda and Bill Gates told a press conference Wednesday.

Why it matters: Activities from 4 major global funds, which have received almost $10 billion from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation since 1999, have proven to offer "enormous" benefits, they said.

Details: Bill said the returns from their investment into GAVI, the Global Fund, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and Global Financing Facility have been "really fantastic."

  • Deaths from infectious diseases like HIV, malaria and measles have halved from their 1990 levels, a key factor in lowering death rates in the poorest countries.
  • A child born today is half as likely to die before the age of five, compared to if she was born in 2000.
  • Melinda noted that part of the challenge is to help less developed countries improve their infrastructure to be able to access necessary health care — for example, helping Zambia with the logistics of getting bed nets from the port to people who need them. "That's been fixed now," she said.
  • There's been progress on the challenge of producing vaccines faster, particularly for the deadly Ebola and MERS viruses, via public-private coalitions like CEPI, Bill said. He added that they are learning more about vaccines through pharma's interest in immunotherapy for cancer patients.

To be sure: Melinda and Bill didn't only discuss the rosy news.

  • Conquering polio has been a much more drawn-out and expensive battle than they originally anticipated — and it's one that continues to be problematic, they say.
  • The world is nowhere near ready to address a pandemic. "There's still a lot of work needed to be done," Bill said, especially in deciding what the rules would be and how cooperation would work in terms of a global emergency.
  • "Over the next 18 months, all 4 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," Bill said.

The bottom line: There is a clear delineation in improved results after 2000, when "the world started investing more in global health, and in particular global health institutions," Melinda said. Both said it will be key that governments and private institutions continue investing in these funds for the next couple decades.Go deeper:

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Rick Gates sentenced to 45 days in jail after Mueller cooperation

Gates leaving federal court last year. Photo: Evelyn Hockstein for the Washington Post via Getty Images

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates was sentenced to 45 days in jail — to be served on weekends — on Tuesday in a Washington, D.C. federal court.

Why it matters: His sentencing wraps up one of the final outstanding portions of former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, which Gates cooperated with extensively.

Go deeperArrowDec 17, 2019

Measles-related death toll tops 6,000 in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Deaths from measles in the Democratic Republic of the Congo surpassed 6,000, with children over the age of 5 most vulnerable to the infectious disease, new data from the World Health Organization showed Tuesday.

Why it matters: About 310,000 suspected measles cases, one-fourth of which are in kids over age 5, have been reported since the beginning of 2019. Vaccinations for children have made headway in some parts of the country, but public health officials are still trying to keep the disease at bay.

Go deeper: DRC health leader discusses what's being done to fight Ebola

The decade of the very poor and the super rich

Data: The World Bank and World Poverty Clock. Note: 1999-2015 World Bank figures are incomplete in South Asia. 2016-2019 figures are World Poverty Clock projections. Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The 2010s may be remembered as the decade when the global 1% accumulated unfathomable wealth, but it was also perhaps the best decade ever for the world’s poorest people.

The big picture: The rate of extreme poverty around the world was cut in half over the past decade (15.7% in 2010 to 7.7% now), and all but eradicated in China.

Go deeperArrowDec 30, 2019