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Bill Gates speaks about campaign to tackle global poverty

posted 19 Oct 2010, 00:51 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 19 Oct 2010, 00:53 ]

Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda speak about tackling world poverty, as they get set to launch their "Living Proof" campaign.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (OCTOBER 18, 2010) ITN - Billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda visited London on Monday (October 18), where they met Prime Minister David Cameron for private talks as part of their latest campaign to help eradicate global poverty.

Gates has pledged to donate most of his vast fortune to tackle disease in the third world, and recently stepped down from software giant Microsoft to work full-time on charitable work through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Gates' latest campaign "Living Proof" is aimed at showing the benefits that investing in the developing world can bring.

"The public hasn't heard these success stories of what vaccines are doing and what new seeds are doing," said Bill Gates in a television interview. "1.1% of UK budget (is) going against these things so that they know what an incredible impact it has and so that's why we are doing Living Proof."

Melinda Gates added that public perception that charitable donations don't get to those who need it most needs to change.

"We're seeing progress on poverty, 1.3 billion people lifted themselves out of poverty," she said. "We're finding that the institutions we're involved with, the Global Fund or the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations, we know exactly how many bed-nets have been delivered, 122 million, we can see the Malaria numbers going down in country after country, so I think its really that people have an old perception that needs updating."

Musician and charity campaigner Bob Geldof recently complained that some countries were not honouring the commitments they had made in giving aid to the developing world, singling out Italy for particular scorn. But according to Bill Gates, most countries are meeting their obligations to help.

"I appreciate Bob's crispness, and absolutely Italy is a great disappointment, most countries however are meeting their commitments, and that's super important, after all these development aid dollars save lives for only a few thousand dollars, they really change what's going on so it's important that we make those commitments," he said.

Melinda Gates went on to say that if the aid money is used effectively, developing countries can help themselves, and then in turn help others.

"India is putting more and more money in their own health system, so even the UK development aid that goes to India has decreased over time because India is starting to have their own aid that they're giving in their country," she said.

"If you see a country like Korea who's gone from being a recipient country and is now a donor country, or you think of Thailand, no new net aid goes to Thailand anymore. These are countries that are getting on their way, it's because of those early investments in development aid that allows them to do that," she added.

Of all the charity work that the Gates have been involved with, Melinda Gates said the biggest difference they had seen was their work in making sure vaccines were given to children in the third world, something that the developed world takes for granted.

"Vaccines are the miracle technology, and the fact that this Global Alliance for Vaccinations and Immunisations we know that millions of children are alive today because they've received life saving vaccines that we so take for granted in the UK or the US. Our kids get those vaccines," she said.

"But when there's a 20 year lag to when they get out in the developing world, that just doesn't make sense, we've got the technology. So seeing that the deaths of children under five has come down so substantially, 20 million children used to die every year in 1960, we're down under nine million deaths, we can cut that again in half by 2025 by getting the current vaccines out there and some new ones that are coming along for diseases like Malaria or diarrheal disease like Rotavirus," she added.

"Once you see the incredible role that vaccines or other health interventions can have," added Bill Gates "you can save a life for a few thousand dollars, now some of the things we do in agriculture, in saving, in sanitation, we see those also as incredibly effective. But we've picked the areas that we understand, that have this amazing effect, and those are the thing that for our life time we're going to stay focussed on."