Paris, 4 April 2011 - Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will visit Paris today at a crucial moment before France hosts the G8/ G20 to launch the Living Proof campaign in partnership with ONE.
The campaign will challenge perceptions about aid, providing evidence of how smart, targeted aid is saving millions of lives, improving livelihoods, and building prosperous and stable societies. Gates will show that we are on the brink of some enormous successes but these will only become a reality if donor governments keep up their support for smart aid and encourage others to do the same. France is in a unique and powerful position through the G8 and G20 to keep up the momentum and leadership in building a better world for millions.
We have already seen some remarkable successes:
In the last 50 years, child deaths in the developing world have been cut by more than 50%, despite the birth rate increasing;
polio cases have been reduced by 99% since 1988, and we are now on the threshold of eradicating only the second disease in history
measles deaths in Africa dropped by 92% between 2000 and 2008; and
malaria cases have been reduced by 50% in 38 countries between 2000 and 2008
Ghana's agriculture sector is growing at more than 5 percent a year and the country cut hunger levels by 75 percent from 1990 to 2004.
These are just a few examples. Living Proof will bring these statistics to life, telling the stories of the people behind the numbers, and the real lives that have been transformed.
Commenting ahead of his visit, Bill Gates thanked France for its support for the GAVI Alliance, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and encouraged France to place a priority on health and development in the coming months.
"Vaccines are one of the best long-term investments we can make to prevent disease and ensure children have a healthy start to life. They are a great example of smart aid, for just a few Euros per dose, a child can be protected for life. We hope that President Sarkozy will continue to champion vaccines, and the need to use vaccines to reach a final end to polio, at this year's G8 summit".
Working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ONE France will share the proof with all its members, their friends and families, across its social networks, and with its partners in the NGO community.
"In France, development aid is always associated in people's minds to old stories of Françafrique, complicated relations with former African colonies, a mixture of guilt and economic interests. But France is a very important donor, and it knows how to lead its partners to action. Last year, she gave the example for the replenishment of the Global Fund", says Guillaume Grosso, director of ONE-France.
"Living Proof aims to challenge perceptions about aid and will let the French know that it helped accomplish progress. The French people's commitment to the fight against poverty is necessary to encourage their leaders to keep their promises. Announces are frequently made, but rarely followed by action. The economic crisis they are struggling with in their daily lives should not make the French forget that cutbacks in programs and freezes in the development budget will cost millions of lives and destabilize vulnerable regions of the world".
Note to Editors:
1. For more information on Living Proof, and access to video and photo stories please visit: www.one.org/fr/livingproof/. Bill Gates will also be tagging the #livingproof campaign on a giant piece of graffiti artwork around landmarks across Paris during his visit.
2. ONE is a global advocacy and campaigning organization backed by more than 2 million people from around the world dedicated to fighting extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. ONE works closely with policy experts, African leaders, and anti-poverty activists to mobilize public opinion in support of tested and proven methods for tackling poverty and disease. For more information please visit www.one.org/fr
3. Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people-especially those with the fewest resources-have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. Learn more at www.gatesfoundation.org or at http://www.gatesfoundation.org/press-room/Pages/news-market.aspx for live pictures and videos of the visit.