I just watched Charlie Rose’s story on 60 Minutes about the work Melinda and I are doing. I’ve spoken with Charlie several times over the years and am always impressed by how well-prepared and thoughtful he is. I know journalists hate it when the people they cover say things like that, but it’s true.
Sitting down with Charlie in my office. It’s always interesting to talk with Charlie because the conversation can range from polio and climate change to technology and healthcare.
It’s amazing how much footage they shoot for a 13-minute segment. We spent two days together and did five interviews in that time, including one with Melinda and another with my dad. You can see some of the footage that didn’t air here.
My dad invited the cameras into his home—where I grew up—to talk about some of the influences that initially led me to technology and ultimately philanthropy.
That’s a lot of time together, but I was happy to do it, because it was a great opportunity to share my optimism about the chance we have to save and improve lives in the poorest countries. I wanted the audience to see that my optimism is based on science, hard data, and the phenomenal dedication of people I have met who commit their lives to helping the poorest.
There’s almost nothing I like more than spending time with scientists, so I took Charlie on a tour of Intellectual Ventures to see the amazing work happening related to malaria prevention and cold storage for vaccines.
For example, the 60 Minutes crew joined me in Ghana, where we saw the painstaking work being done there to immunize children against deadly diseases, even in very remote areas. I also met with some local women there who are using their own money to run a program to feed schoolchildren. It’s very inspiring.
While visiting a farm to learn more about a school feeding program in Ghana, Charlie’s producer and I found a shady spot to sit down and talk about why I come to Africa.
It’s fantastic that a show like 60 Minutes would devote so much air time to these issues. Not every news organization will get excited when you say, “Let’s go to Ghana so we can talk about vaccines.” But there are a lot of great stories in global health. The world has made phenomenal progress in saving and improving lives—the child mortality rate has dropped by two thirds in my lifetime—and innovations are coming that will save even more lives in the years ahead. I’m glad 60 Minutes decided to tell part of this story.
Of course there will always be challenges. That’s why, even in tough financial times, we need to maintain our support for people working on behalf of the poor. Governments and donors need to keep their commitments for aid. And if you want to help as an individual, you can support organizations like Rotary International, UNICEF, and Save the Children, which are running very effective programs.
When it comes to saving lives and fighting poverty, we’re making progress faster than ever. I hope the 60 Minutes story left you feeling as optimistic as I am.
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