Bill Gates, the American business mogul, is a major Wordle fan. He is most known for his work at Microsoft and his charity endeavors addressing the global vaccination crisis and polio.
Gates discussed his ideas for solving the daily five-letter word puzzle while in Abu Dhabi for the Ideas Abu Dhabi Forum on Catalytic Philanthropy. Gates, a prominent philanthropist and Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, spoke with Rima Al Mokarrab, Co-Chair of Ideas Abu Dhabi and Chair of Tamkeen, during a fireside discussion. Their presentation on 'Big Bets and Patient Capital' looked at how new philanthropic models can be excellent vehicles for long-term maximal impact.
"There are terms like 'audio' or 'radio' with three vowels, or adieu with four vowels [that are good as introductory words]. I alter it around from time to time, but the vowels must be completed. I don't spend much time on those word games, but it's a delightful daily hobby," Gates remarked.
Foray into philanthropy
His revelation that he does not use the same starting word every day reflects a level of reflection and investigation that has distinguished his transition from tech innovation at Microsoft to philanthropy through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
During the forum on Sunday at NYU Abu Dhabi, the American businessman and philanthropist, who has worked closely with UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to combat diseases such as polio and malaria through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, offered advice on how to engage with philanthropy and shared his thoughts on how to improve the global third sector.
The Gates Foundation, which Gates cofounded in 2000, has made the most progress in eradicating polio, although other programs are also attempting to combat malaria, river blindness, and lymphatic filariasis. It has also played an important role in expanding worldwide access to vaccines, particularly COVID-19 vaccinations, through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance that it established shortly after its inception.
Abu Dhabi Collaboration
Abu Dhabi has collaborated with the Foundation on several global health initiatives in recent years, led by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed.
"We've collaborated on several projects with the UAE President. He has been quite giving to Gavi, which has a fantastic impact on saving lives for very little money, which benefits these countries. When general health improves, population growth decreases because fewer [children] are required. Education, food, and stability all improve when you invest in health, so this has been a fantastic collaboration. Neglected tropical diseases, which are truly horrifying, [are another area of collaboration].”
In most situations, we already have the meds; we just need to deliver them to Africa. [And] we are adding new nations where river blindness, a neglected tropical illness, has been eradicated. It will take us 10 to 15 years to achieve that internationally, but every piece counts," Gates remarked.
Another major collaborative effort has been polio eradication. That is the Foundation's single largest program, and it is incredible. It is over once you are prepared for the disease. However, only one human illness has been declared eradicated: smallpox, which was declared eradicated in 1985. The polio campaign began in 1988, and at the time, approximately 300,000 children died or were paralyzed each year.
Following that, the Foundation plans to work on eradicating measles and malaria, both of which Gates believes are curable in time.
According to the philanthropist, the most significant area in which human potential is now lost is hunger, which kills almost five million children each year. According to Gates, efforts are in the works to halve this statistic, 90% of which is the result of health conditions that limit nutrient absorption rather than acute starvation.
He also urged young people to find their causes for philanthropy, asking them to investigate and learn about it while they were young so that they may someday give in knowledge and finances in later years. In a nutshell, he encouraged young people to choose a subject that they are enthusiastic about, go on field excursions to learn more about it, examine current difficulties, and donate their time. This will eventually allow them to contribute financially when they get older, just as Gates did when he was in his 40s.
"I founded the Foundation when I was 45 years old. I had been doing some giving and researching giving, but I had been spending a lot of time at Microsoft, which was the work that resulted in the Foundation, and then this happened.”
"What made sense to me was to construct an organization with an outstanding mix of expertise — hopefully the greatest in the world — that could take on malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV," he added.
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