Billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, worth an estimated $65 billion, is in the process of using all of that money in hopes of extending the lives of others.His next plan of action: eradicating poliomyelitis, a viral disease that has taken a countless number of lives.
At 57, Gates, a college dropout, says he wants to do more for others and sees this as one way of giving back to the world that made him so successful.
Ambitious man: Billionaire Bill Gates plans to will spend $1.8¿billion in the next six years in an attempt to eradicate polio, a viral disease that has taken a countless number of lives
Gates will deliver the BBC’s Dimbleby Lecture later this month, using the value of young human beings as his central theme.
In that speech he will talk about every child having the right to a healthy and productive life. He will also explain how technology and innovation can help the world reach that goal.
So far Gates and his wife Melinda, 48, have given away $28 billion of their fortune through their charitable foundation, with more than $8 billion of it to improving global health.
‘My wife and I had a long dialogue about how we were going to take the wealth that we’re lucky enough to have and give it back in a way that’s most impactful to the world,’ Gates told the Telegraph’s Neil Tweedie.
‘We’re focused on the help of the poorest in the world, which really drives you into vaccination. You can actually take a disease and get rid of it altogether, like we are doing with polio.’
Polio vaccination: Nurse Agnes from Bwindi Community Hospital in Uganda prepares a polio vaccination at an outreach clinic in Kitahurira
Polio victim: Bismillah Gul, 12, suffering from polio is carried by his father Masta Gul at the International Committee of the Red Cross orthopedic center on November 19, 2012 in Kabul, Afghanistan
The leading causes of death are pneumonia at 18 per cent, pre-birth complications at 14 per cent, diarrhoea at 11 per cent, complications during birth at nine per cent and malaria at seven per cent.
A September report from the United Nations Children's Fund stated that four-fifths of ‘under-five deaths’ in 2011 occurred in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
‘Given the prospect that these regions, especially sub-Saharan Africa, will account for the bulk of the world's births in the next years, we must give new impetus to the global momentum to reduce under-five deaths,’ UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said in the report.
For Gates, getting rid of polio is emblematic in that effort.
The eradication of the disease that affects the nerves and can lead to partial or full paralysis will inspire countries to take greater efforts to lower child death rates, he believes.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will spend another $1.8 billion in the next six years to accomplish the couple's goal.
‘All you need is over 90 per cent of children to have the vaccine drop three times and the disease stops spreading,’ said Gates. ‘The number of cases eventually goes to zero.
‘When we started, we had over 400,000 children a year being paralyzed and we are now down to under 1,000 cases a year. The great thing about finishing polio is that we’ll have resources to get going on malaria and measles.’
Charitable efforts: So far Gates and his wife Melinda, center, have given away $28 billion of their fortune through their charitable foundation, with more than $8 billion of it to improving global health