14 November 2011

Link of the day: Bill Gates tries to save the world through vaccines

I find it demoralizing to read about the plight of the world economy, skyrocketing health care costs, and disregard for environmental and climate issues.  It makes me think that the only solution is to reduce the world's population.  Suddenly, those evil antagonists in movies who want to destroy everything don't seem so bad. Fortunately, I read this Forbes article about how Bill Gates is trying to reduce the world's population by distributing vaccines to Africa. If that didn't make sense to you, Gates felt the same way at first:
So in 1997, when he and Melinda first ventured into public health... they focused on birth control... The logic was crisp and Bill Gates-friendly. Health = resources ÷ people. And since resources, as Gates noted, are relatively fixed, the answer lay in population control. Thus, vaccines made no sense to him: Why save kids only to consign them to life in overcrowded countries where they risked starving to death or being killed in civil war?
The problem was that people were having huge families because so many children died in infancy. Vaccines drastically reduce the child mortality rate so that families can plan. The end result is a suppression of population growth. It's not obvious to me that this is true, but if Bill Gates did his homework and is spending millions of dollars to distribute vaccine, I'm inclined to believe in it. The cool thing is that Gates is putting his business skills to use. By guaranteeing a market for vaccines in developing countries, drug companies are competing to supply the product and this is driving the cost of vaccines down. Clever man!

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