BILL GATES MICROSOFT SPEECH TRANSCRIPT Karolinska Institute Speech

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BILL GATES MICROSOFT SPEECH TRANSCRIPT Karolinska Institute Speech Powered By Docstoc
					Bill Gates: Karolinska Institutet Speech
Good evening. I’m certainly excited to be here and talk to a group that shares the same values as the Gates Foundation. It’s a great honor, and I look forward to lots of future work between your institution and our foundation. As was said, Melinda is also very pleased to receive this honor, and she’s sorry she can’t be here. She’s on her way to Mali to see some of the foundation’s projects there and get a strong reminder of how challenging it is to deliver solutions in the poorest parts of Africa. You know, every time we travel to these countries, our dedication to help solve these problems is really renewed. And I think it’s important that we get more and more people out to see what’s going on, because hardly anyone can make that kind of visit and not come away with the real dedication to say, “Why are conditions so different and why can’t we take the wonderful advances in science and use them much more on behalf of these people?” Most of my career has been about great breakthroughs in science: Taking the miracle of the microprocessor, the magic of software, and putting those together and creating a business system where an entire software industry grew up to empower people with the personal computer. That led to the Internet, which has now become a great tool of learning and sharing information. And there’s no more worthy cause for the use of those tools than the illustrations that Dr. Rosling provides, like we’ve just seen. I love what he does because he takes what can be a very complex picture and shows people two things that they don’t normally understand. The first is that the improvement in health over these last 100 years, for most people, has been phenomenal. Life expectancy has doubled over that time period, which is a really unbelievable thing, you know. It’s both wealth and health interventions combined that have led to this wonderful result. So that’s the first thing that surprises people. The second thing that surprises them is that for the poorest two billion the gap is still so dramatic. And that seems very, very surprising. I have to say that most of my career, I didn’t have a clear understanding of that. I mean, I knew there were people who were poor, I knew that there were things that needed to be done, but I really didn’t understand what was missing.

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A key event for me, in addition to spending time in Africa, was seeing an article that was in the New York Times that said that a half million people a year die of rotavirus. I said, “I’ve never heard of rotavirus. What’s rotavirus?” You know, if there’s a half million people dying from it, there must be brilliant people, and companies and competitions working to create the medicine or the vaccine that will get rid of that. When I found out that that was not taking place, I said, Well this really shouldn’t be true. But since it’s true, it can be the priority of our giving — the priority for taking the resources that I’ve been lucky enough to have through the success of Microsoft and giving them back to society in the way that can have the greatest impact. And so the journey began about 10 years ago and as you may know it’s a journey that in the middle of this year will change, become my full-time work. That is, instead of being part-time on these causes, I’ll be full-time, and I’m very much looking forward to that. I’m a great optimist about what can be done. After all, the advances in biology and immunology, the understanding of genetics, proteomics, and the unleashing of software to look at that data and understand what’s going on in these complex systems —they really should put us in a position to solve these problems. But our challenge is not just a science challenge. We also have a challenge that the incentive system is not really motivating the right level of activity. After all, the marketbased signals are causing great research to be done on baldness, or erectile dysfunction, at levels that are orders of magnitude greater than on the great killers of the world. And so we need to not only be granting money to the scientists’ work in those areas, we need to be educating voters so that their governments will be more generous, and creating new approaches so that businesses including the drug companies will have a reason to get involved in these activities. I call the idea of drawing business in and drawing market mechanisms in “creative capitalism.” That is, taking capitalism and adding things to it so that those incentives will be there. Incentives that relate to profit but also incentives that relate to recognition. What are some examples of this? Six years ago, the foundation did what we called “Grand Challenges” that identify some of the scientific advances that would make a big difference. And it was very impressive to see the outpouring of activity that that was able to generate. We’ve found ways of working with the best pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, to encourage them to put some of their best scientists on the work.

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The foundation takes a lot of the work, in terms of some of the research and trial costs, but GSK also puts forward their expertise and their best people, and certainly very significant opportunity costs for work on things like the malaria vaccine and a number of other drug projects. We also have creative ideas like the ‘Advance Market Commitment’. This is the idea of governments and philanthropists actually guaranteeing that if a company can come up with a vaccine that meets a particular set of requirements, then the money will be there to buy it — particularly during the early stage, where the cost of manufacture might be high and the need to recover the significant research costs is very, very important. And so a billion and a half has been put together to try and incent companies to take the pneumococcal vaccine that’s been designed for the rich world market, and make the changes and additions to it that would make it effective for the entire world. Often, delivering medicines in these environments is very difficult. For example, even the difficulty of cold chain, having to refrigerate vaccines — having the capacity for that, particularly if we’re lucky enough to have many of these new vaccines — that’s a very, very difficult thing. But I do think that it’s a very solvable problem. When you think about how the world should measure the good work that it does, I think that having metrics like the Millennium Development Goals is very important. We should use that as a chance to remind people that these are the things that really count and that we, as a human community, should see the great inequities here as the last great frontier. After all, in the rich countries, so much effort has gone into providing equity, it really jumps out that as you move across national boundaries, you get such dramatic differences. In effect, we can say that we’re treating human lives in some countries as being worth less than $1,000 while at the same time, we treat lives in other countries as being worth more than $1 million. And so that’s a very dramatic difference. I’m not suggesting we should stop saving any of those lives, but we certainly ought to reorder our priorities so that more of the people in poor countries are given these new medicines. I’m very optimistic about this work. I’m optimistic that we can improve the incentive systems. That ideas around creative capitalism will be created. I’m enthused too, that the science will provide solutions.

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In malaria, it looks like we have a lot of promising things going on. We also have some more basic understanding in rotavirus, the disease that got us into this work and really made the need so clear. We have two companies with vaccines, and over the next three or four years we ought to see finally those vaccines being deployed in places like India, where they could save so many lives. Some new institutions, like Global Fund and the Global Alliance for Vaccines, are among the things that have come into existence over these last five years. And the success of those groups, and the generosity of many governments, including the Swedish— we need to hold that up as an example and make sure that the people in rich countries know that this has gone very well and get them to do even more. So what we need is a combination of scientists focusing more on these problems; businesses putting more of these resources toward these problems; and governments working on these problems. We need to take that 100-year period that Hans mentioned, in terms of getting India for example up to good health status, and make that something more like 20 years or 25 years at the most. I definitely think that’s possible. If we can do that in 25 years, I might have to find something new to do for my third career. But I would gladly do that of course. We’ve got all the diseases of the rich countries that are a challenge there as well, and so I don’t think the work in global health will ever, ever be done. So, I want to encourage all of you to continue the focus that you’ve had. I think this institution — whether it’s the work of Hans or your general values of educating people on global health — it’s very, very important. There’s not many schools doing it, and if you keep it up, others will imitate that. I think it requires something that your President has said: that you need close ties to business as well, so that their skills in terms of productizing these scientific discoveries can get out and, and have a very big impact. I really think there’s no limit to what can be done here and it certainly is very, very urgent so I look forward to seeing the work that we can do together. Thank you.

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