Impatient Optimists


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Last night Bill and Melinda Gates addressed the world from Harman Hall in Washington, DC to discuss the millions of lives that have been saved, improved and empowered because of the investments in global health.

A lot of you watched the speech live here on the ONE Blog so I won’t rehash the event detail for detail, but what I saw was probably one of the most compelling and crystal clear cases for investments in global health I’ve ever witnessed. Smallpox eradicated, polio reduced 99 percent, measles reduced 93 percent, terrific progress made in the fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria– it was truly inspiring to see these facts laid out by two people who are playing such a pivotal role in encouraging the US government to do more.

But with so much to be optimistic about, Melinda Gates probably put it best when she said “the world is getting better. But it’s not getting better for everyone, and it’s not getting better fast enough.”

The presentation was interspersed with some fantastic footage chronicling US global health investments on the ground. It’s no secret that video is often the best medium to really capture some of these powerful stories, and the crowd’s reaction definitely demonstrated that.

I just have to share this one that documents the results of Rotavirus vaccine in a clinic in Nicaragua. Even though I’d seen it before, I still find it really striking.

The Gates cited several specific examples of programs that are making great strides in global health– from the Global Fund and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, to the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the promise of the Millennium Development Goals.

It was fitting that the Gates chose to make this presentation in DC given the importance they placed in the US Government’s ability to make an enormous impact. As Bill Gates put it, though foundations like the Gates Foundation can act as catalysts, governments in rich countries “have the money, the expertise, and the leadership to deliver the interventions that will save millions of lives.”


There’s a lot more I could add, but I’ll choose instead to end it the same way the Gates did tonight– by pointing you to so you can see for yourself what I saw tonight and spread the word in your community about all the great work that’s being done thanks to US investments in global health– and how much is still left to do.

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