Gates Annual Letter Sees Progress on Global Health, Poverty

Gates Annual Letter Sees Progress on Global Health, Poverty

In their 2015 annual letter (28 pages, PDF or HTML), Bill and Melinda Gates highlight advances made over the last few decades in the areas of global health, agriculture, financial inclusion, and education and predict that, with innovation in technology, the pace of progress will accelerate over the next fifteen years.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chairs argue in the letter that, by 2030, investments in health care in the poorest countries and the development and deployment of new vaccines and treatments will reduce child mortality rates globally from 4.6 percent today to 2.3 percent; reduce the number of women who die in childbirth by two-thirds; and eradicate polio, guinea worm, elephantiasis, and river blindness, while significantly curbing the spread of malaria and HIV. The Gateses also predict that innovations in farming techniques, including drought-resistant seeds and fertilizers as well as mobile access to information about weather, crop rotation, and market prices, will help boost crop yields in Africa from 32.6 bushels of maize per acre to 48.9 bushels, improving farmers' income and, in turn, their children's nutrition and health.

The letter further predicts that digital banking increasingly will give the poor more control over their assets and help them transform their lives, with two billion people who do not have a bank account today becoming able to access a full range of financial services — from savings accounts to credit to insurance — on their mobile phones by 2030, contingent on gender equity in access to mobile phones and the development of robust regulatory frameworks and commercial infrastructure. In the area of education, the Gateses expect online education to become more interactive and better connected to well-paying careers. Here, too, the letter emphasizes the need to address gender gaps in mobile phone ownership and other factors that can prevent girls from continuing their education. "Education is a great leveler," the letter notes. "But if the factors that hold girls back are not addressed, and if access to education isn't equal, then education will become another cause of inequity, rather than a cure for it."

The Gateses' seventh annual letter since 2009 concludes with a call for "global citizens" to work "together to form effective movements for change" toward the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030. To that end, the foundation has launched Global Citizen, a platform where registered users can take action on specific issues, share what they are learning, and connect with other people and organizations. "The more global citizens there are, and the more active and effective they are, the more progress the world will make....[W]e believe that people can and must work together more to make the world a more equitable place," the couple writes. "In fact, we're betting on it."

"2015 Gates Annual Letter: Our Big Bet for the Future." Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Annual Letter 01/21/2015.