Bill Gates agrees – Foreign aid is a great investment

World Vision welcomes Bill Gates’ emphatic reminder about the benefits of foreign aid and the role of innovation in tackling some of the most common causes of preventable deaths in the developing world.

The visionary behind Microsoft congratulated Australia on its determination to improve living conditions in the region, and praised the ongoing investment in aid despite an uncertain economic environment.

Bill Gates, founder and co-chair of The Gates Foundation, spoke this afternoon in Canberra about the effectiveness of overseas development assistance – barely a fortnight after the federal government yet again delayed its commitment to devote 0.5 per cent of Gross National Income to foreign aid.

World Vision Australia chief executive Tim Costello said The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had proved time and again that well-targeted, effective aid works.

“It’s been estimated Bill Gates’ foundation has saved at least 5.8 million children’s lives, and obviously Mr Gates can see the benefits of his investment,” Mr Costello said. “He is a brilliant businessman, who wouldn't pour billions of his own dollars into development if there was no return.”

Each year The Gates Foundation invests three times more than Australia in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, an investment that has improved the lives of millions of people.

“There has been a 40 per cent reduction in preventable child deaths since 1990, thanks to the work of countries like Australia and organisations like Mr Gates’, but last year 6.9 million children still died needlessly,” Mr Costello said.

“The Coalition had a chance to listen to the evidence on aid effectiveness today, now I would like to see it commit to a timetable to achieve the 0.5 target.”

“Our foreign aid budget generates more human benefit than any other expenditure of our government. We know aid works, imagine what we could do if the Government and Coalition fulfilled their promises.”

In the past year Australian aid enabled 1 million children to be enrolled in school, helped 2.5 million people in Asia, the Pacific and Africa to access safe water and ensured 230,000 women gave birth with the support of a skilled birth attendant.

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