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The Gates Foundation report urges more attention to health and education in the poorest countries

Image result for health and educationSEATTLE, September 18, 2018 / PRNewswire / – The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation today launched its second annual Goalkeepers data report, which discusses demographic trends that could impede unprecedented progress in poverty reduction at the national level. world. While 1 billion people have emerged from poverty in the last 20 years, rapid population growth in the poorest countries, especially in Africa, puts future advances at risk. If current trends continue, the number of people in the world living in conditions of extreme poverty could stop their decline of two decades, and even increase.

Despite these serious projections, Bill and Melinda Gates are optimistic that the growth of young populations could help boost progress. Investing in the health and education of young people in Africa could unleash a potential for productivity and innovation that would unleash a “third wave” of poverty reduction, which would follow the first wave of China and the second wave of India.

“The conclusion is clear: to continue to improve human conditions, our task now is to help create opportunities in the poorest and fastest growing countries in Africa,” note Bill and Melinda Gates in the introduction. “This means investing in young people, and especially, it means investing in their health and education.”

Goalkeepers: The Stories Behind the Data 2018 has been written and edited jointly by Bill and Melinda Gates and produced in collaboration with the Institute for Metrics and Health Assessment (IHME, by its acronym in English) of the University of Washington. Through new data projections, the report reveals that poverty in Africa is being concentrated in a handful of countries, which in turn are among the fastest growing in the world. By 2050, more than 40% of the world’s people living in extreme poverty will live in only two countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria.

In the past, large young populations have helped boost economic growth and reduce poverty. The report presents arguments for leaders to invest in the power and potential of youth to move forward. Through essays by experts and journalists, the report examines promising approaches in health and education, and highlights the ways in which young people could transform the continent. According to the report, investments in health and education, or “human capital”, in sub-Saharan Africa could increase the region’s GDP by more than 90% by 2050.

Each year, the report records 18 data points of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (or World Goals), which include infant and maternal mortality, stunting, access to contraceptives, HIV, malaria, extreme poverty, economic inclusion and sanitation. The IHME projections offer three potential scenarios for the indicators: better and worse scenario according to the acceleration or reduction of the rate of progress, and projections based on current trends. This year’s report examines four topics in greater depth:

Image result for family planningThe Family Planning chapter includes an essay by Alex Ezeh, a visiting professor at the Center for Global Development. The essay focuses on the importance of empowering women so that they can exercise their fundamental right to choose the number of children they will have, when they will have them and with whom. Mr. Ezeh points out that, according to United Nations data, it is estimated that Africa’s population will double in size by 2050 and could double again by 2100. If all women in sub-Saharan Africa were empowered to decide the number of children who want to have, the projected increase in the population could be 30% lower, from 4000 million to 2800 million. And what is even more important, this would allow more women and girls to expand their horizons and be able to go to school for longer, earn more of adults, have children later and invest more in them. The chapter also explains how a novel family planning program in Kenya is offering young women access to contraceptive methods. The HIV chapter includes a model from Imperial College London on how the HIV epidemic will have developed in Zimbabwe by 2050 and , therefore, what future awaits the nation in general. Their large percentage of young people have the potential to boost economic growth, but only if they remain healthy. More than half of Zimbabweans are under the age of 25 and are reaching the age at which they are most at risk of HIV infection. If Zimbabwe manages to expand the prevention tools currently available for the next five years, in a decade could see a drop of one third in new infections among young people of 15 to 29 years. The introduction of new prevention tools for 2030, including an extremely effective vaccine, could further reduce new cases by about 400 per year. Together, these interventions could prevent up to 364,000 new cases of HIV among the young population. The Education chapter includes an essay by Ashish Dhawan, president of the Central Square Foundation in India. Although today, in countries with low or medium-low incomes, there are more students than ever enrolled in schools, many are not learning what is necessary to succeed. Unfortunately, the strategy to improve school results is not as obvious as the strategy to improve access to schools. The chapter examines Vietnam’s success in achieving system-wide improvements. Although the GDP per capita of the country is only slightly higher than that of India, the 15-year-old students of Vietnam surpass those of rich countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom in international tests. The chapter on Agriculture includes an analysis by James Thurlow, Senior Research Fellow of the International Food Policy Research Institute, which estimates that if agricultural productivity were doubled, Ghana could reduce poverty by half, create hundreds of thousands of jobs and boost economic growth. An essay by a local journalist follows the journey of a tomato from a field in rural Burkina Faso to a plate in Ghana to illustrate all the jobs that are created along the way.

Bill and Melinda Gates will create the Goalkeepers data report every year until 2030, in time for the annual meeting of world leaders that takes place in New York City on the occasion of the United Nations General Assembly. The report is designed to highlight best practices and help hold the Gates Foundation, its partners and world leaders accountable. Its objective is to document not only what is working, but also those points where the world is failing.

Together with the report, Bill and Melinda Gates will again celebrate the Goalkeepers event in New York City during the General Assembly of the United Nations. On September 26, young dynamic leaders from the government, business, technology, media and entertainment sectors, as well as non-profit organizations, will talk about innovations and approaches to achieve the World Goals. The participants include young leaders such as David Sengeh, director of Innovation for the Government of Sierra Leone; Trisha Shetty, Indian lawyer, social activist and founder of SheSays; King Kaka, musician and activist Kenyan; and Aranya Johar, Indian poet of spoken word. Other speakers include Graça Machel, international advocate for women’s and children’s rights, and co-founder of Graça Machel Trust; Richard Curtis, writer, activist and co-founder of Project Everyone; and Stephen Fry, actor, writer and presenter. The event will feature performances by British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Soon the names of additional speakers will be announced.

Organized by Bill and Melinda Gates, the Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards will be presented on September 25, the night before the Goalkeepers day event. In collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Unicef, the awards will celebrate the extraordinary work focused on young people from all over the world directly linked to the 17 World Goals. The four award categories include the Progress Award, the Artificer of Change Award, the Campaign Award and the Global Goalkeeper Award.