Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is in Europe this week "in an effort to persuade Europeans not to cut aid budgets in the face of austerity - and in particular not to reduce spending on vaccinations and agriculture," the Wall Street Journal reports.
Gates began his trip with a presentation in Paris on Monday before moving on to Strasbourg, France, where he will speak to European Commissioners. He heads to Berlin on Wednesday (Fidler, 4/4).
In Paris, Gates "took to the streets ... to sign works of graffiti" to highlight the plight of some of the world's poorest people, Agence France-Presse reports. Gates told AFP, "I'd love it if everyone in France could go to Africa and see the great things going on there" with humanitarian aid.
Gates' trip was timed to coincide with the French launch of the "Living Proof" campaign, the news service notes. "It will take President (Nicolas) Sarkozy's leadership and creativity to make sure that these issues that relate to the poorest countries stay on the agenda," Gates said. As chair of the G8 and G20, France is in a unique position to prioritize the issue of aid to the developing world, he said. "Gates said it was particularly important in this time of economic crisis for governments to maintain and even increase the tiny slice of their budgets they currently devote to foreign aid," the news service writes. Gates said many people in developed countries have "an out-of-date image" of foreign aid, adding, "I thought it was very important to tell them about the smart aid, the vaccines that save lives, that help kids develop" (Mulholland, 4/4).
In an interview before his trip, Gates discussed agricultural aid, polio eradication, vaccines and the work of his foundation, the Wall Street Journal reports.
"The key point is just to get some thoughts out about where, particularly in agriculture and health, aid has made a huge difference, so as they're faced with very tough trade-offs, they keep in mind that they're saving lives," according to Gates (4/4).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.