As world leaders prepare to gather for the UN General Assembly in New York, the Gates Foundation has launched a new report that will track global health. "Goalkeepers" will highlight the astonishing progress that has been made, while at the same time warn that all this can be undone if our eye is taken off the ball.
The new report takes a slightly different approach than most conventional papers that have come before. Rather than simply focusing on the hard facts and data about the prevalence and death toll from particular diseases and situations, it looks instead at the leaders, approaches, and innovations that have helped us achieve these advances in global health.
“What we’re trying to do here is a bit novel,” explains Bill Gates in a conference call. “We’re trying to document the incredible progress, including on key things like poverty and different disease areas, and we’re trying to look forward and see what the possibilities are.”
One of the most important messages is that while there has been stunning progress made among the global community to tackle health and poverty, serious challenges remain. That means continued progress well into the future is far from guaranteed. Gates stresses that many people simply aren’t aware of how fragile this upward trend is, and that if things falter or stall, the progress made so far can go backwards.
“One example we give is in HIV. If we had a 10 percent cut in the funding, we’d have 5 million more deaths by 2030,” says Gates.
In order to track these trends, the new report will focus on 18 key indicators, all part of the UN’s sustainable development goals, and create three potential scenarios as to how each indicator may look by 2030. The first will be what could happen if there is no change to funding and support based on past trajectories. The second will look at what could occur if things such as leadership and innovation are improved, while the third will focus on what is likely to happen should attention and funding decline.
One of the mounting problems the Gates Foundation highlights is that of developing countries cutting their aid budgets. “If countries do not think about these global problems, and you get cuts… you can have reversals,” says Gates. “So whether it’s HIV or malaria or maternal health, the generosity is very important.”
The report, which is to become an annual occurrence until 2030, will also pick different indicators, or global goals – such as access to contraception, HIV, stunting, and even financial inclusion – and look at where the innovation and leadership is achieving progress. This can then be applied to other regions where advancements may be slower or nonexistent.
Following on from the launch of the new report, there will be two Goalkeeper events taking place in New York City around the UN General Assembly.