Microsoft founder Bill Gates is worth an estimated $65 billion and has a lakeside estate in Washington State worth about $150 million. However, the 57-year-old Harvard dropout now says, "Money has no utility to me."
In a recent interview, Gates told The Telegraph: "I’m certainly well taken care of in terms of food and clothes. Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point. Its utility is entirely in building an organization and getting the resources out to the poorest in the world."
Gates will deliver the BBC’s Dimbleby Lecture later this month, in which he will say that every child has the right to a healthy and productive life, and technology can help.
Gates and his wife Melinda have so far given away $28 billion via their charitable foundation, more than $8 billion of it to improve global health: "My wife and I had a long dialogue about how we were going to take the wealth that we’re lucky enough to have and give it back in a way that’s most impactful to the world."
Gates said that he and his wife want to eradicate polio, which has only been done with one disease before—smallpox in the 1970s.
"We’re focused on the help of the poorest in the world, which really drives you into vaccination. You can actually take a disease and get rid of it altogether, like we are doing with polio. Polio’s pretty special because once you get an eradication you no longer have to spend money on it; it’s just there as a gift for the rest of time."
Polio is still endemic in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. One huge obstacle is that some Islamist groups believe that polio vaccination is a front for covert sterilization and other evils from America.
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Gates adds: "It’s not going to stop us succeeding. It does force us to sit down with the Pakistan government to renew their commitments, see what they’re going to do in security and make changes to protect the women who are doing God’s work and getting out to these children and delivering the vaccine."
"All you need is over 90 per cent of children to have the vaccine drop three times and the disease stops spreading. The number of cases eventually goes to zero. When we started, we had over 400,000 children a year being paralyzed and we are now down to under 1,000 cases a year. The great thing about finishing polio is that we’ll have resources to get going on malaria and measles."
"The vast majority of the wealth, over 95 percent, goes to the foundation, which will spend all that money within 20 years after neither of us are around any more. It doesn’t relate to any particular religion; it’s about human dignity and equality. The golden rule that all lives have equal value and we should treat people as we would like to be treated."