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Bill Gates, Billionaire, Philanthropist

  • February 1, 2012
  • RPh on the Go

Bill Gates is the second richest man on the planet. According to Forbes Magazine, his $56 billion fortune is eclipsed only be the $63 billion amassed by Mexican investor Carlos Slim Helu. Gates’ face, his name, and his brand are recognized the world over.

What most of the world doesn’t know is that he would be on top of the wealthiest list if he stopped giving so much away, mostly in the form of vaccines. He spends billions in the effort to eradicate disease by distributing vaccines to fight measles, hepatitis B, rotavirus, AIDS, and others .

Gates is a problem solver. More than a decade ago, he set out to find solutions to some common problems with the simple idea of making the world a better place. He reached an epiphany when he historical studied research data that showed that across history, when the mortality rate falls, the birth rate follows, resulting in stabilized population growth. He and his wife Melinda surmised that people have fewer children if they can reasonably expect their children to live. That realization changed the Gates’ path, from birth control to disease control. The results have been historic.

In 1999, following a dinner at the Gates home for vaccine experts, the Gates started the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with an infusion of personal funds that catapulted the foundation to the top of the charity food chain, with a current worth of $36 billion and $25 billion already given away to vaccines, storage facilities, and research.

But even Bill Gates’ immense fortune wasn’t enough to address the problems of the entire world. He knew he’d have to get pharmaceutical companies, investors, and other organizations on board. Together with UNICEF, the UN, the World Bank, several big pharma companies, and other health-based organizations, Gates formed the Global Alliance for Vaccines & Immunisation, aka GAVI. He put in $2.5 billion and then strong-armed developing nations to agree to co-fund discounted medicines and keep comprehensive records. The result was a competitive and sustainable market for big pharmacy. The end result was drastically lower prices for vaccines, making prevention accessible to millions of kids who might otherwise die from easily preventable disease.

Bill Gates is on a mission to eradicate malaria and polio, and reduce the impact of half a dozen other common diseases. What would happen if every billionaire championed a cause, putting his or her problem-solving skills to use for the good of mankind? It’s important to note that after spending billions and billions of personal fortune, enough to make an impact felt around the world…Bill Gates still has more money than he could hope to spend in his lifetime. What other issues could be addressed with unlimited funds and global cooperation? What would you do with enormous wealth at your disposal? Kind of nice to know there are people out there willing to find out.

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