While U.S. foreign assistance comprises less than 1 percent of the federal budget, programs such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Feed the Future, and the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) have saved and improved the lives of tens of millions. For example, U.S. leadership has helped to cut in half global under-five child deaths over the last twenty-five years, and in the last ten years alone the U.S. has led efforts to provide AIDS treatment to more than 15 million patients and to reduce malaria deaths by 75 percent in many of the hardest hit countries.
During the last two presidential administrations, we have taken a stand to champion the historic funding to fight the HIV/AIDS global pandemic. When we began in 2002, less than 50,000 people who were victims of HIV in Sub Saharan Africa had access to anti-retro viral medications. Today, because of the legislation of PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, over 17 million people have access to the medicines which have saved their lives. We are proud that the United States has been the international cornerstone leader of this funding as a moral response, a charitable response, and a response based on smart power— national security, foreign policy, and economic reasons.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has reportedly bought time “to do a deeper analysis of foreign aid” in the face of President Trump’s proposal to slash funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The proposed cuts of 30 percent or more are the product of an “America First” budget that frames the issue of foreign assistance as a choice between nation-building at home and nation-building abroad.
It is clear that the generosity of the American people has had a huge impact — one that reflects the view that all lives are precious, and to whom much is given, much is required. This lifesaving work also has a practical purpose for Americans. Societies mired in disease breed hopelessness and despair, leaving people ripe for recruitment by extremists. When we confront suffering — when we save lives — we breathe hope into devastated populations, strengthen and stabilize society, and make our country and the world safer.
Today, more than 783 million people around the world lack access to clean water, and nearly 2.5 billion people do not have access to proper sanitation. Because dirty water contributes to diarrheal diseases, a leading cause of death among children under the age of five, this translates to more than 700,000 preventable, treatable deaths among children every year. Without clean water to drink, cook and clean, disease and death abound.

Mobilizing Medical Missions Conference

Lakewood Church

February 18, 2017

This past week executive directors Jenny Eaton Dyer, PhD and William Moore co-hosted a breakout session at Lakewood Church in Houston on the importance of nutrition during the 1000 day window – from conception to 2 years old – of a child’s life for proper cognitive and physical development. We live in a time where 1 out of 3 people suffer from malnutrition in some form. The most devastating consequences include stunting and wasting of children who are victims of undernutrition.

But the good news is that, together, we can really bolster funding and food security worldwide with advocacy. Right now less than one percent of the U.S. budget goes to foreign assistance. And nutrition is just one percent of that one percent. A fraction of funding that should be protected and enhanced with proper nutrition education and counseling during this critical time for mothers and children.

We encourage you to call or write your Congressional representative today (house.gov or senate.gov) and let them know that you support full funding for nutrition in foreign assistance to allow children and families to flourish to their full potential in school, in jobs, and in life. We can be the generation to end poverty. This is a critical step.

Please join us.

Our 2017 annual letter is addressed to our dear friend Warren Buffett, who in 2006 donated the bulk of his fortune to our foundation to fight disease and reduce inequity. A few months ago, Warren asked us to reflect on what impact his gift has had on the world.

Esther Havens was ready to take on her true passion, to follow her dream wherever it took her. She wanted to travel the world and help people, so “humanitarian photographer” was the label she gave herself. The task? To help organizations and enterprises obtain photographs for campaigns that would aid the disenfranchised.

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