Many proponents of international aid, including economist Jeffery Sachs, Director of the UN's Millennium Project, contend that there has been a drop in the proportion of the world's population living in extreme poverty and with dire health care needs.
About a fifth of the world's population, or 1.1 billion people, Sachs says, live in extreme poverty today, compared with about a third of the population a generation ago and close to a half two generations ago.
Meanwhile, worldwide wealth has grown dramatically in the last two decades, causing Sachs and others to insist that donor nations should give much more aid.
In 1981, the income of the 22 largest donor countries was $13.2 trillion. Twenty years later, it had jumped by 65 percent — to $20.2 trillion (figures adjusted to 1993 dollars).
With less poverty and greater wealth, there's more incentive than ever to tackle the problem of global health.