ABC News announced Wednesday the launch of "Be the
Change: Save a Life," a yearlong project to focus attention on the illnesses
and health conditions disproportionately affecting the world's poorest
The series, led by World News anchor Diane Sawyer and ABC News Chief Health and
Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser, will bow in December and will continue through
2011. "Be the Change" will also feature a Website focused on gathering stories
and providing more information and solutions for those who want to get
ABC News is investing over $4.5 million in the
project to cover personnel and production, and the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation will give a $1.5 million grant to help fund overseas travel and
foreign production costs.
"We are, as always, committed to in-depth
reporting on the global issues that matter to our audience -- and health is a
topic that touches every human being in the world," said ABC News
President David Westin. "Support from the Gates Foundation will help us,
literally, go that extra mile; we can cover the stories that ABC News is
passionate about, stories that will connect our American audience with the
struggles and solutions of families and doctors all over the planet, from
Africa to South America to Asia. And, even more important, we can offer people
the opportunity to get involved and truly save a life."
HIV, malaria, inadequate newborn care and a lack of
critical vaccines are among the issues the series will tackle.
"When I arrived at World News, one of our conversations was about focusing attention
on global health, and what works, particularly for children around the world,"
Sawyer said. "We have a bulging folder of ideas and reports on what can be
accomplished, often with little or no money."
"We believe that great storytelling can inform
decisions that could help to save lives," said Kate James, chief communications
officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "ABC News has a
tremendous history of reporting on important stories from the poorest regions
of the world, and we are excited to be a catalyst to help make sure these
stories are told."