The 2015 annual report from the Gates Foundation reports excellent prospects on the fight against disease and hunger for the world’s poor. The Bill Gates foundation is spending many billions to make it happen and they are investing in technological innovation and better planning to make it work. Previously aid organizations spent even more money but they were not as effective.
The next 15 years will see major breakthroughs for most people in poor countries. They will be living longer and in better health. They will have unprecedented opportunities to get an education, eat nutritious food, and benefit from mobile banking. These breakthroughs will be driven by innovation in technology — ranging from new vaccines and hardier crops to much cheaper smartphones and tablets — and by innovations that help deliver those things to more people.
The rich world will keep getting exciting new advances too, but the improvements in the lives of the poor will be far more fundamental — the basics of a healthy, productive life.
The world could save about 2 million newborns every year through interventions that cost less than $5 per child.
Cutting the number of children who die before age 5 in half again. In 1990, one in ten children in the world died before age 5. Today, it’s one in 20. By 2030, that number will be one in 40. Almost all countries will include vaccines for diarrhea and pneumonia, two of the biggest killers of children, in their immunization programs. Better sanitation — through simple actions like hand-washing as well as innovations like new toilets designed especially for poor places — will cut the spread of disease dramatically. And we’re learning how to help more mothers adopt practices like proper breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact with their babies that prevent newborns from dying in the first month after they’re born. (Newborn deaths have gone down at a slower rate than deaths of older children and now account for almost half of all child deaths.) Many poor countries have built strong health care systems in the past 25 years, and in the next 15 years other countries will pick up on their ideas and provide more care — and higher quality care — for newborns and young children. Ultimately, this will mean millions of people alive and thriving who would have died.
Wiping polio and three other diseases off the face of the earth
Destroying a disease utterly is a very difficult thing to do — so difficult, in fact, that it’s happened only once in history, when smallpox was eradicated in 1980. But if we keep working hard, we can eradicate four diseases by 2030. We can get polio out of Africa this year and out of every country in the world in the next several years. Guinea worm, an incredibly painful disease whose sufferers spend months incapacitated while worms that can be several feet long burst out of their legs, will also be gone soon, thanks in large part to the leadership of President Jimmy Carter and the Carter Center. We’ll also see the last of diseases like elephantiasis, river blindness, and blinding trachoma, which disable tens of millions of people in poor countries. The drugs that can stop these scourges are now being donated in huge numbers by pharmaceutical companies, and they’re being used more strategically thanks to advances in digital maps that show where diseases are most prevalent. Last year these free medicines were distributed to 800 million people.
Finding the secret to the destruction of malaria
We won’t be able to completely eradicate malaria by 2030, but we will have all the tools we need to do so. These will include a vaccine that prevents people with malaria from spreading it to the mosquitoes that bite them, a single-dose cure that clears the parasite completely out of peoples’ bodies, and a diagnostic test that can reveal right away whether a person is infected. Early versions of all these tools are in development now. In 15 years, we’ll be poised to send malaria the way of smallpox and polio.
Forcing HIV to a tipping point
As we make progress toward a vaccine or a cure, the number of people beginning treatment in sub-Saharan Africa will finally outstrip the number of people newly infected. When we reach that point in the region with the most dense HIV transmission in the world, cases will start going down everywhere around the globe for the first time since the disease was discovered more than 30 years ago.
This (partial) list of breakthroughs gives a phenomenal picture of how much progress can be made in just 15 years. Life will get better, faster, because the number of innovations reaching the poor will be greater than ever before.
Africa currently imports $50 billion of food each year and the farms are 5 times less productive than American Farms
In the next 15 years, however, innovations in farming will erase these brutal ironies. The world has already developed better fertilizer and crops that are more productive, nutritious, and drought- and disease-resistant; with access to these and other existing technologies, African farmers could theoretically double their yields. With greater productivity, farmers will also grow a greater variety of food, and they’ll be able to sell their surpluses to supplement their family’s diet with vegetables, eggs, milk, and meat. With the right investments, we can deliver innovation and information to enough farmers in Africa to increase productivity by 50 percent for the continent overall.
Mobile banking for the poor
In the next 15 years, digital banking will give the poor more control over their assets and help them transform their lives.
The key to this will be mobile phones. Already, in the developing countries with the right regulatory framework, people are storing money digitally on their phones and using their phones to make purchases, as if they were debit cards. By 2030, 2 billion people who don’t have a bank account today will be storing money and making payment with their phones. And by then, mobile money providers will be offering the full range of financial services, from interest-bearing savings accounts to credit to insurance.
This vision of the future isn’t going to materialize by itself. There are barriers that people in the field are working hard to solve. Mobile phone access, for example, still isn’t equal; only 46 percent of Bangladeshi women own a phone, compared to 76 percent of Bangladeshi men, which means women lack access to services like bKash and the opportunities that the digital economy is bringing to Bangladeshi society.
There is a lot of work ahead to get regulators in developing countries to update their financial regulations. If the regulations limit digital banking, as is still the case in most countries, innovators can’t enter.
Another key factor to getting the use of digital money to critical mass is making sure there are enough locations where people can convert digital money into cash and cash into digital money. Without this as an enabling factor, the digital economy can’t get started. Making sure that enough retail stores in every community provide this service allows the digital economy to bootstrap into the mainstream.
Less Illiteracy and better education
Online Education has already come a long way, as you can see at sites like Khan Academy, and it will advance even more in the next 15 years. Before a child even starts primary school, she will be able to use her mom’s smartphone to learn her numbers and letters, giving her a big head start. Software will be able to see when she’s having trouble with the material and adjust for her pace. She will collaborate with teachers and other students in a much richer way. If she is learning a language, she’ll be able to speak out loud and the software will give her feedback on her pronunciation. (Some sites do this today, but the technology will improve a lot.)
Many of today’s online classes are disconnected from career paths, but that will change too. Suppose you want to be a health worker; you’ll be able to find out what level of math, chemistry, and other subjects you need to meet the requirements, and you’ll be able to do much of the work online. Some content will need to be localized for different places and languages. Yet the basic ideas don’t change; algebra works the same way everywhere.
There is one thing software will never do: replace teachers. Even the most self-motivated student needs guidance and support. But software can play a crucial role, for example by connecting teachers to each other. They will be able to upload videos of themselves and get advice from their peers, watch the best teachers in the world at work, and get real-time feedback from their students. These advances will be important in the United States, and they’ll have an even bigger impact on teachers in developing countries where enrollment is high but achievement is not.
To make the most of these innovations, we need to close the gender gap. In Africa, women are 24 percent less likely than men to own a cell phone; in South Asia, it’s 37 percent.
SOURCE – Gates Foundation
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.