While President Trump pooh-pooh’s foreign aid, PATH and other nonprofits in Seattle’s global-health cluster continue to project our best values around the world.
IN the current political climate, it’s easy to lose sight of the many ways America continues reaching out to help people in the poorest and most dangerous parts of the world.
While the president pooh-poohs foreign aid, health programs supported by organizations in Seattle are saving millions of lives in places like sub-Saharan Africa.
Families whose children are saved from death and debilitating disease, and nations struggling to fight these epidemics and create health-care delivery systems, will remember this kindness and transformational work.
All of this goodwill should transcend this American president’s lapse into xenophobic and selfish foreign policy.
Seattle and the state of Washington should be proud. The region has been doing this incredible global-health work for decades, as reflected by this year’s 40th anniversary of Seattle-based PATH.
The nonprofit develops and delivers lifesaving technologies, from fortified rice to vaccines, that help at least 150 million people around the world every year.
An early recipient of support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, PATH draws on the software business model to leverage partners and extend its reach. Those partners include nations, world-health programs and private companies.
“PATH is kind of like the Boeing and the Microsoft of global health and innovation,” Gary Locke, former governor, ambassador to China and current PATH board member, told this editorial board recently.
Locke learned about PATH through the fortified “ultra rice” it developed to improve nutrition in Asia.
Funding for PATH, from individual donors, foundations and the public, is translated “into delivery systems, into the innovation, into the low-tech solutions that really benefit people all around the world,” Locke explained.
PATH’s local partners include Seattle Children’s Hospital, the University of Washington and Tableau, the Fremont-based software company now helping PATH with its effort to reduce and eventually eliminate malaria in Zambia.
Tableau and PATH developed software dashboards and reporting systems used by health workers and agencies to track and coordinate their work and measure progress.
PATH and other global-health nonprofits can’t eradicate horrible diseases on their own, without continuing government support.
They are a smart public investment that will save lives and spread peace and prosperity, which will benefit America for generations to come. Some of the babies being saved from malaria today will eventually start companies and perhaps lead countries, and they’ll need to buy software and airplanes from someone.
PATH and other global-health nonprofits cannot substitute for American foreign aid and the “soft power” that it projects into developing countries.
But for the time being, we’re grateful that they are succeeding, persevering with noble work and representing our best values.