Bill Gates said he fears Earth might become a post-industrial wasteland plagued by heat, chronic food and energy shortages, and rampant disease unless governments and private organizations invest more time and money solving what the Microsoft chairman believes are the world's most pressing problems.
"If we project what the world will be like 10 years from now without innovation in health, education, energy, or food, the picture is quite bleak," said Gates, in his annual letter from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, published earlier this week.
However, unlike many of the vocal activists who are prepared to be very generous with other peoples’ money, and tightfisted with their own, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced that it will be contributing $10 billion for vaccines over the next decade. According to an article on the website for the Times of London:
Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder and philanthropist, is to make the largest ever single charitable donation with a pledge of $10 billion (£6 billion) for vaccine work over the next decade.
Mr Gates said that he hoped the coming ten years would be the “decade of the vaccine” to reduce dramatically child mortality in the world’s poorest countries. It is calculated that his pledge could save more than 8 million lives....
Among the infections to be targeted with the money are rotavirus, which causes severe diarrhoea, and pneumococcal disease, which causes pneumonia, blood poisoning, and a form of meningitis....
By significantly scaling up the delivery of life-saving vaccines in developing countries to 90 per cent coverage — including the new vaccines to prevent severe diarrhoea and pneumonia — the model suggests that the deaths of 7.6 million children under the age of 5 could be prevented between now and 2019.
It also estimates that an additional 1.1 million children could be saved with the rapid introduction of a malaria vaccine beginning in 2014.
Mr Gates said that if additional vaccines such as for tuberculosis were developed and introduced in this decade even more lives could be saved.
The new funding is in addition to the $4.5 billion that the Gates Foundation has already committed to vaccine research, development and delivery over the past ten years.
Gates’ previous forays into discussions of public healthcare have often been marked by controversy; for example, in 2007 Gates allegedly praised the healthcare system of Communist Vietnam during a meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. He has also been cited as supporting President Obama’s plans for "reforming" healthcare.
However, the Gates Foundation’s donation will certainly make a difference in the lives of millions of people. Charity on such a scale demonstrates, contrary to the dominant thought of many circles, that individuals and private charities can make a substantial difference in addressing the needs of the poor. As Washington considers a collectivization of the nation’s healthcare system at an almost unimaginable cost and with dubious returns promised for those costs, the benefits of charity — both for those who give and those who receive — need to be highlighted once again.
Photo of Bill Gates: AP Images