Why Bill Gates Is Giving Away His Fortune

People already know that Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, has more money than anyone in the world. What they may not know is that he's also giving away more money than anyone. Gates is dedicating billions to fight diseases like malaria that are still killers in the developing world even though they have been all but eliminated everywhere else. "This Week" spoke with him earlier this week at a global health summit cosponsored by Time magazine and ABC News.

George Stephanopoulos, host of "This Week:" So how did this all start for you? After you built up Microsoft, made your fortune, you're the world's richest man, how did you decide to start giving it away and how did you choose global health?

Bill Gates: Well, the first thing was the decision that it probably wouldn't be good for my kids, for it to go to them, and so then the question of--

Stephanopoulos: Will they get nothing?

Gates: They'll get something, but not a substantial percentage. Then, the question is how to give it back to society to have the best impact. And so my wife Melinda and I talked about what was the focus in the United States that we think could have the biggest impact? And then we picked education and scholarships. And then on a global basis, what was the greatest inequity? And as we learned about these health issues, we realized that that's where you can make a huge change and that has such a positive effect on all the other things.

Stephanopoulos: Melinda has said that the night before you got married, your mom wrote her a letter which was a real inspiration. What did she say?

Gates: Well, my mom was very involved in the community, always gave a lot of time in nonprofit activities more than anything else. And she thought that given the success, which was just starting then, that responsibility was commensurate with that, and so very excited that Melinda would be there to partner with me and help us make the right choices.

Stephanopoulos: Let's talk some of the specifics. You've given away about $6 billion over the last five years. And a real special focus on malaria. How did you choose it?

Gates: Well, there's about 20 diseases that don't exist here in the United States that are killing millions of people in poor countries. The worst of those are malaria and AIDS. And so we've made those a particular focus. The exciting thing is that the biology has improved, so the chance of having new medicines and vaccines are stronger today than ever. And yet because the people who need these medicines can't afford them, we haven't put the resources of the world behind us. And with our foundation, with others, with governments now, we're changing that. We're getting the brightest scientists to come and work on these problems.

Stephanopoulos: You said that the way the world is dealing with malaria is a disgrace.

Gates: We should be putting more resources into malaria. The fact that all these kids are dying, over 2,000 a day, that's terrible. If it was happening in rich countries, we'd act. And so making that more visible, getting more resources, I think that needs to be done.

Stephanopoulos: Can malaria be wiped out?

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