Bill Frist, MD
First, for the questions that I am most frequently asked: What is ONE? And why are Tom Daschle and Bill Frist leading this delegation to Rwanda?
ONE (www.one.org) is a grassroots organization with about 2.5 million members in the U.S whose purpose is to fight extreme poverty and preventable disease around the world. I’ve been working with ONE since Bono and I went to Uganda in 2001. ONE pushes for better policies and, where needed, more resources to support effective, anti-poverty programs. We lobby and put pressure on political leaders in our country to do more, but to do that well we know we must listen to those who are living in the developing world trying to transform their societies for the better. And there is no more appropriate place in the world to do that than Rwanda, a country that went through the most horrendous atrocities imaginable just 14 years ago, with a million people killed in genocide over a period of 100 days. Today is creating a future of hope and opportunity that will lift the country out of poverty and decimate preventable disease. They demonstrate good governance and investments in education and health, and they create an environment conducive to business and trade.
We have tremendous admiration for those people working on the ground to improve the lives of the world's poorest, and it is our responsibility and obligation to spread their success stories and share their lessons learned.
As an anti-poverty organization, ONE often advocates for development assistance, HIV/AIDS policy, and clean water, but we also know that the lasting solution to poverty is economic growth, trade, investment.
Rwanda has laid out an incredibly ambitious vision for where it hopes to take the economy by 2020 in its Vision 2020; it’s an inspiring framework. Vision 2020 is Rwanda's goal/plan to be a middle income country by the year 2020. They've said they want to be the “Singapore of Africa.”
My own goal of putting together this trip for our ONE delegation is to visually and graphically make the link of health and education to trade and investment. Although not always apparent (especially to the politicians in Washington!), these are connected spheres of activity. In a healthy country, they build upon and reinforce each other. Healthy, educated people produce more developed economies. Business and trade produce the tax revenue that a government can invest in public education and public health. But too often our development initiatives treat these as separate.
We begin today as ONE; the setting, challenges, and some solutions will be explored by our motley family of ONE.