Bill and Melinda Gates Tout Success of Global Health Initiatives

Photo: Charles Gibson interviews Bill and Melinda Gates on World News

In a wide-ranging interview with ABC News' Charles Gibson Tuesday, billionaire philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates said Americans should "feel good" about the U.S. government's generosity abroad and enthusiastically support the work of publicly and privately-funded health initiatives worldwide.

"It's not often you hear about a government program that's gone so well, in fact, even better than expected," said Bill Gates. "We think when people hear about that, they'll support what's only a quarter percent of the budget being continued and even increased."

VIDEO: Gates Launch Living Proof Project
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Watch Bill and Melinda Gates' interview with Charles Gibson tonight on World News at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Gates, the founder and former CEO of Microsoft, says the millions of dollars spent by the U.S. government on vaccines, drugs, and training for health workers around the world – far more than any other government or foundation – has made a huge difference and has saved millions of lives.

VIDEO: Bill And Melinda Gates On Living Proof Project
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"There's been a perception in the past that [the money] goes to the dictator, that it's not well measured," said Gates. "In fact, these health programs have been designed in a different way…so, we're bringing those stories here."

The couple is launching what they call the Living Proof Project to showcase success stories of their foundation's work around the world.

Find the full interview and videos from the Living Proof Project in our special global health section.

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"There's something that seems strange in this modern world, that you have to make ads and you have to make films and you have to say, 'Look, we're showing progress,'" remarked Gibson during the interview.

The Gateses said publicizing the outcomes of U.S. taxpayer-funded initiatives lends credibility to the effort, particularly at a time when many Americans may feel skeptical of how their money is being spent.

"I think really what we're trying to say is that the U.S. government has made huge investments already, and we want people to know that they're working," said Melinda Gates.

VIDEO: Some of the richest people in the world meet to discuss philanthropy.
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Gates: Vaccines Are A 'Miracle'

Melinda Gates says she and her husband also hope proof of past success will garner support to tackle existing health crises like the high mortality rate of newborns and their mothers worldwide. "We think there should be a little bit of an increase in U.S. government funding, but not a substantial increase" for these areas which have seen less progress, she said.

The Gates Foundation, which is perhaps most widely known for its ambitious, decades-old global vaccine initiative, has struggled in recent years to bring in broad contributions from foreign governments and private donors.

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"We would like to see more [contributions] because vaccines are just such a miracle," Bill Gates told Gibson. "When I look at…this immunization effort, 2.5 million kids are alive because of that effort that wouldn't have been there before. So when I go out and meet people and see what the difference is, then you don't lose hope."

He told Gibson that while many global health groups focus on treatment of the sick, his focus is on developing new vaccines to prevent the spread of diseases like tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS. He said vaccines are inexpensive tools that give lifelong protection.

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"In the long run, it's self-sufficiency that we're aiming for," he said.

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