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Progress on global poverty and disease at risk, Gates says

Reuters  |  London, September 13 

By Kate Kelland

London, September 13 (Reuters) - Proposed United States budget cuts could put in jeopardy great progress in reducing poverty and disease and lead to 5 million more deaths from AIDS alone, the philanthropist Bill warned on Wednesday.

Gates, whose Bill and Melinda Foundation is a major provider of and development funding, said there was currently "more doubt than usual about the world's commitment to development".

A report by the foundation, co-authored by the and the Institute for Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington (IHME), analysed progress against diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

It also tracked rates of poverty, maternal and infant death, access to contraception, sanitation and other development issues. Forecasting good and bad future scenarios, it found millions of lives hanging in the balance.

In a telephone briefing about the findings, Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, said remarkable progress had been made in recent decades but that shifting priorities, instability and potential budget cuts could lead the world to turn away, jeopardising the gains.

HIV, which currently infects almost 37 million people worldwide, is an "iconic example", said, "because the world really did step up with an incredible level of generosity which has meant (annual) AIDS-related deaths have fallen by almost a half since the peak in 2005."

The IHME analysis, called the Goalkeepers report, forecast that a 10 percent cut in donor funding for HIV treatment could mean more than 5 million extra deaths by 2030.

Under budget proposals from U.S. President Donald Trump released in May, U.S. funding for programs including efforts on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria would see a 24 percent cut to about $6.5 billion for 2018.

But opposition Democrats and many of Trump's fellow Republicans have blasted his plan, saying they will reject it. Congress, not the administration, controls U.S. spending.

said his foundation is working hard to secure continued U.S. government funding for and development and remained hopeful the proposed cuts will not be approved.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Angus MacSwan)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, September 13 2017. 16:03 IST