Each year Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, pens an annual letter about the state of global development and shares his ideas to help improve health programs and save more lives in developing countries. Here in the United States the Gates Foundation’s priority is improving education, but in poor and middle-income countries the emphasis is on lowering the rate of child deaths, eradicating polio and promoting more vaccines, and providing a greater way of life for millions of people who face rife poverty and diseases like malaria and deadly pneumonia that we never think about. This year’s annual letter centers around measurement and how critical it is in implementing better health programs and saving more lives. Here, in the US measurement provides a better chance of a great education for those who need it most.
Gates’ premise in this year’s letter is this: the more data there is, the more effective global development programs will be. He points to recent examples where using measurements worked, such as in India which has eradicated polio through data assessments and targeted strategies created from learned information about what polio eradication strategies worked and which ones did not. This year marks the second year that India has not had a single case of polio. Measurements worked.
Another case Gates points to is Ethiopia which has lowered its child mortality rate 60% since 1990. This was done through the key utilization of 34,000 female frontline health workers and sustained measuring of health data on the community, state, and national levels.
You can read more examples by reading Bill Gates’ annual letter at billsletter.com.
You might also like to watch his interview on the Colbert Report where Gates provides an overview of his annual letter.
Photo: Gates Foundation