As any geek will tell you, nothing beats a good chart — and as the founder of Microsoft and one of the world’s leading philanthropists, Bill Gates has seen his fair share.
But there’s one chart that stands out above the rest, and Gates and other global health leaders recently put that chart to work in battling foreign aid cuts proposed by the Trump administration.
“We took what often call my favorite chart of all time — which is the chart that shows the phenomenal reduction in yearly under-five deaths — and we showed today to 2030, what would that difference be?” Gates said Wednesday at an event marking the 20th anniversary of the Global Burden of Disease study.
The chart shows that in 1990, 85 in 1,000 children around the world died before the age of five. By 2016, that number had more than halved to just 38 children.
“This is vaccines, economic development, all these great things at work. It’s one of the things the world should celebrate the most,” Gates said.
But the fight is far from won. To illustrate what would happen if funding was cut to global health work, Gates and other global health leaders projected the chart to 2030.
“What this chart shows is that if you don’t do a good job in spreading good practices and funding, it will only go down to 31,” in that time, Gates said, “whereas if you fund those things, then it goes down to 19.”
“The area under that curve, between the red and green there — that’s 20 million lives,” he said. “I think everyone would agree here, it’s 20 million tragedies.”
It’s unclear if global health activists have convinced Washington, D.C., that foreign aid is a worthwhile investment for the public’s money. Wednesday morning, Republican leaders proposed an overhaul of the tax system that would drastically cut revenue for the federal government, likely leading to cuts for government-funded programs across the board. If those cuts were anything like Trump’s budget proposal earlier this year, foreign aid would likely be one of the items on the chopping block.