When Bill Gates is in Spain this week to discuss the country’s commitment to international development and the challenges of global health, he will find a country in which drastic cutbacks have been made in the aid budget owing to the current economic crisis. Nonetheless, I am still convinced that my country should not abandon its leading role in the field of global health.
Over the last decade, Spain has played an important role in changes that have led to the most dramatic progress ever seen in world development agendas. The case of malaria is a good example.
Recent progress in the control of this disease, still a leading cause of death among children in Africa, has led to the definition of a new scientific agenda aimed at total eradication of the disease, a goal that would have seemed impossible only a few years ago. The Malaria Eradication Research Agenda (MaIERA) was set up to define an ambitious new research and development agenda aimed at eradication. This, in turn, has given rise to the Malaria Eradication Scientific Alliance (MESA), which is currently working to further this agenda. The task of MESA is to promote and monitor the progress of critical research projects on the path to malaria eradication.
Moreover partners such as the GAVI Alliance and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, have generated immensely important political, scientific and economic momentum and attracted the combined efforts of public and private actors. For millions of people, these initiatives that fight preventable disease represent the difference between life and death.
Spain's commitment to these international efforts has been significant and, although it may have faltered, we must remember that this is a global crisis and we can only confront it with global solutions. This is why I firmly believe that the cuts in public sector funding are disappointing, but we can still renew our commitment to meeting the target of 0.7 percent and should do so as soon as possible.
Advances in the field of global health in the last ten years have been unprecedented, but there is still a long way to go. This is why I emphasize that in order to meet the development goals we have set, our commitment to research must be supported by firm political and financial commitment to cooperation for health.