Gates urged capitalists to save lives
Bill Gates is about to address thousands of top executives, bankers and investors at the year's biggest healthcare industry gathering. His message to capitalists: Join us, and we can change the world.
"No matter where I go, no matter who I talk to, there’s one point I always try to get across," Gates will say at the annual J.P. Morgan Health Care Conference today in San Francisco, according to prepared remarks shared with FORBES. "It’s been my key message for more than a decade. It’s that health is getting better, and it’s getting better faster than ever before."
In the prepared remarks, Gates then moves into one of his patented fact dumps: Since 1990, the world has cut child mortality in half. HIV? No longer a death sentence. Neglected diseases? Not as neglected.
What follows in Gates' speech is an assignment list for capitalists who want to improve the world — as Gates inarguably has since he left Microsoft to focus on philanthropy — and an offer to help them do so.
"It’s true that government-funded basic science research shines a light on promising pathways to health advances," Gates says. "Philanthropy can help nurture the best ideas through discovery and development and balance the risk-reward equation for private-sector partners. But industry has the skills, experience and capacity necessary to turn discoveries into commercially viable products."
Global health, he says, needs the private sector. But he also points out that impact and earnings are not mutually exclusive.
One of Gates' big topics is lowering regulatory barriers. He notes that it can take at least four years to get a product approved in a developing country, compared with no more than one year in a developed one. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to change that. He also advertises that the foundation has invested $12 billion in global health over five years.
"[When] I think about the breathtaking pace of innovation in just the last 10 or 20 years, I believe that even more extraordinary things are possible in our lifetime," Gates says. "I can think of no more noble purpose than erasing the divide between those who suffer the relentlessness of disease and poverty and those of us who enjoy good health and prosperity."
Gates, who started the foundation with his wife, Melinda, in 2000, is the world’s second wealthiest man (behind only Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos) and probably the most influential philanthropist. HIV is one of the top five priorities of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.