Bill Gates: Cheeseburgers and polio

Billionaire philantropist Bill Gates. Photo by: MATEUS_27:24&25 / CC BY-NC-SA

Bill Gates likes cheap cheeseburgers and free online courses — and after eradicating polio, he wants to prioritize measles and malaria.

Answering all sorts of questions — both personal and about his development work — in an “Ask Me Anything” chat organized by the website Reddit, Gates said that the recent violence against anti-polio workers in Nigeria and Pakistan is a “terrible thing,” but he’s still optimistic polio will be eradicated in 2018.

“We have some innovations like the way we use satellite maps to find all the villages and GPS tracking to make sure the teams go to every hut that are helping out,” he noted. “Polio is a harder disease than smallpox was but it is doable.”

Although anti-polio campaigns require funding and meticulous execution, they can be successful, Gates said. In fact, he suggested that the eradication of polio could become one his foundation’s greatest achievements.

“So far our biggest impact has been getting vaccines for things like diarrhea and pneumonia out which has saved millions of lives. Polio will be a great achievement along with key partners when that gets done,” he said in response to a Reddit user.

Since 1999, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded $1.75 billion in grants to 33 agencies to eliminate polio, which remains endemic in Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. After polio, the world needs to wipe out malaria and measles, Gates said.

“Polio is the first thing to get done since we are close,” he told millions Reddit users. “Within 6 years we will have the last case. After that we will go after malaria and measles.”

Which is probably why, when asked what’s left on his bucket list, Gates replied: “Don’t die.”

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About the author

  • John Alliage Morales

    As a former Devex staff writer, John Alliage Morales covered the Americas, focusing on the world's top donor hub, Washington, and its aid community. Prior to joining Devex, John worked for a variety of news outlets including GMA, the Philippine TV network, where he conducted interviews, analyzed data, and produced in-depth stories on development and other topics.