Microsoft cofounder turned billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates is worried about what President Donald Trump means for foreign aid efforts.
On Tuesday, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation published their annual letter for 2017, outlining the work the organisation is doing to improve “global health.” (You can read the full annual letter here.)
And in interviews carried out to promote the letter, Gates has expressed concerns about Donald Trump’s policies and what they could mean for their aid work.
USA Today reports that Gates is worried that inwards-looking nationalism could put America’s $US30 billion (£24 billion) aid contributions at risk.
“If you interpret America First (the stated doctrine of President Trump) in certain ways, it would suggest not prioritising the stability of Africa and American leadership,” he told the news outlet.
The answer, Gates suggested, might be to push the economic benefits of aid work. “With this new crowd, and with some of things they want to do fiscally, it just means we’re going to have to tell the story of how amazing this work is,” he said.
Melinda Gates: ‘We’re concerned that this shift could impact millions of women and girls around the world’
Meanwhile, in an interview with The Guardian, 61-year-old former technology executive Bill Gates said that Trump’s “global gag rule” — which prevents US funds going towards organisations linked to abortion — could cause a dangerous gap in funding.
“The US is the No 1 donor in the work that we do. Government aid can’t be replaced by philanthropy,” he said. “When government leaves an area like that, it can’t be offset, there isn’t a real alternative. This expansion of this policy, depending on how it’s implemented, could create a void that even a foundation like ours can’t fill.”
Melinda Gates added: “We’re concerned that this shift could impact millions of women and girls around the world … It’s likely to have a negative effect on a broad range of health programs that provide lifesaving treatment and prevention options to those most in need.”
And speaking to Politico, Bill Gates said: “We always want more, but I would be happy if the aid-related things were kept at the levels they are right now … It’s really hard to tell because if you cut the budget dramatically, which a few times that’s been tried, you might worry that foreign aid would be disproportionately cut, not just linearly cut.”
The letter itself also lays out these concerns, making a clear and simple case for the value of foreign aid: “We hope this story will remind everyone why foreign aid should remain a priority — because by lifting up the poorest, we express the highest values of our nations.”
Gates previously said Trump had a chance to be like JFK
With a net worth of $US85 billion, according to an analysis by Forbes, Bill Gates is the richest person on Earth. Since stepping down as Microsoft CEO, Gates has devoted his time to philanthropic work. Along with investor Warren Buffet, he created The Giving Pledge, which asks people to give half of their wealth to philanthropy and charitable causes.
Bill and Melinda Gates have pledged to give away around 99.96% of their wealth, keeping $US10 million for each of their three children.
Gates has spoken to Trump after his election via phone, and afterwards told CNBC that the Republican president has a chance to be like “JFK.”
“A lot of his message has been about … where he sees things not as good as he’d like,” he said.”But in the same way President Kennedy talked about the space mission and got the country behind that, I think whether it’s education or stopping epidemics … [or] in this energy space, there can be a very upbeat message that [Trump’s] administration [is] going to organise things, get rid of regulatory barriers, and have American leadership through innovation.”
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