Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

A Year of Progress, a Year of Promise

December 24, 2013

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day aspect of the work we’re doing, but as we approach the end of 2013, it’s amazing to reflect on what the world has accomplished in such a short time.

Here’s a quick snapshot of just one year’s worth of progress:

  • In April, world leaders gathered in Abu Dhabi for the Global Vaccine Summit. The location reflected the growing leadership we’re seeing from the Middle Eastern and Islamic community to improve child health worldwide. And donor pledges of $4 billion to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative underscored confidence in the worldwide effort to eradicate polio, including great progress this year reducing the number of new cases in Afghanistan and Nigeria. Sustained funding is also critical to stopping transmission in the three remaining endemic countries, and to quickly containing outbreaks in previously polio-free areas such as the Horn of Africa and Syria.
  • The October meeting of the GAVI Alliance was another pivotal moment – confirming that we are on track to immunize a half-billion children by the end of 2015 against preventable, life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea, and meningitis. GAVI helps 73 countries in the developing world buy and deliver affordable, life-saving vaccines. It also partners with these countries to strengthen their health and routine immunization systems, which is key to breaking the cycle of extreme poverty and disease.
  • The International Conference on Family Planning in November reflected the progress we’re making getting contraceptives and information about family planning to 120 million more women in the developing world by 2020. Building on the momentum of the landmark London Summit on Family Planning in 2012, it was great to see how country leaders and advocates are stepping up. In the last year, 10 developing countries have held national family planning conferences, and seven now have costed national family planning strategies.
  • In early December, donors around the world pledged $12 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. This commitment represents a 30% increase in funding for an organization that has played a pivotal role in turning the tide on three epidemics that have historically imposed a heavy burden on the poorest countries.

I draw two lessons from the progress we’ve made in global health and development in the last year. First, that partnerships are an incredibly productive way to get vaccines, drugs, and other life-saving solutions so to the people who need them. And second, that the global community can be most effective when it aligns with a new generation of leaders in developing countries – especially in sub-Saharan Africa –who have a powerful vision and a strategic roadmap to strengthen the health and economic prosperity of their citizens.

I’m optimistic that 2014 will be another year of important progress. African leaders will gather at the African Union summit in June to reaffirm their commitment to reducing poverty by investing in agriculture-led growth. We are anticipating that India we’ll celebrate a third year polio-free. And a second Reinvent the Toilet Fair will showcase the latest innovations in sustainable solutions for the 2.5 billion people worldwide without access to safe, affordable sanitation.

As I approach the start of my third year as president of global development, I’m excited about the headway we’re making, and the even greater impact we can have in the years ahead. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

 
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