Why Bill Gates Is Giving Away His Fortune

Gates: Absolutely. It's not going to happen overnight, and we should take the tools we have today and get those applied, because we can save half the lives just that way. But with breakthroughs that will come over the next two decades, yes, we can make malaria in the whole world like it is in the United States today, something that we just don't have to worry about.

Stephanopoulos: Earlier this year, there was a headline in a Swiss newspaper that said, "The health of the world depends more on Bill Gates than the World Health Organization." Now, that says something about you, and it also says something about the World Health Organization. Flattering to you, but it shows that perhaps we're not all doing enough together.

Gates: Well, the World Health Organization is a critical institution. And we should all adopt the idea of making sure that the best people go to work there and that they get more resources. I think governments overall are the key actors here, and the most that even a large foundation can do is raise the visibility, be an advocate and take on some of the more risky elements, including drug discovery.

Stephanopoulos: But do you ever think about that there are times when you may become a substitute for government action rather than a spur to government action?

Gates: Well, in fact, we measure ourselves by how much we're getting other foundations involved and governments involved, and there's been a dramatic increase, probably because the visibility is much higher. Events like the summit on global health get people thinking, "Hey, how is my country doing? What should I do?"

And so the last five years have been the best ever, drawing more resources in, the brightest people in, and that's something we need to make sure continue that trend.

Stephanopoulos: Over all the time you've been working on these issues, was there any one moment that sticks out, one ah-hah moment where you said, "Yes, I know this is what I need to do, and I know it can work?"

Gates: Well, there was a dinner after I'd given the first $125 million, where a lot of scientists came. And they were there to be nice about--

Stephanopoulos: Sure, after you give out $125 million.

Gates: And I said, "Well, could you do more if you had more money?" And they all kind of looked at each other like, "Well, are we really supposed to say." But then they were talking about each, the disease that they devoted their life to and how a little bit of resources could help them move forward. That was very exciting to hear them.

Stephanopoulos: Must have been exciting for them.

Gates: Well, yes. I mean, many of those scientists now are the partners who are making the breakthroughs with us.

Stephanopoulos: Do you think you'll be remembered more for the work you're doing on global health than for Microsoft?

Gates: Well, I don't care whether I'm remembered. I do think that empowering people with the Internet and PCs is my lifetime's work. That's my job; I'm thrilled about that and the new things we can do there. It's also neat in terms of giving all this money back, to take my position where I've been, maybe, the luckiest person and help the people who have been unlucky to have better lives. I feel very fortunate to have found that and [to] be able to get engaged and hopefully energize that field as well.

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