Bill Gates: Health innovation, tech help to uplift poor

Bill Gates: Health innovation, tech help to uplift poor
Bill Gates in Washington, DC, December 1, 2015.
PHOTO: AFP

A new year has begun. The international community will continue to face challenges in 2016, as the post-World War II global order is shaken by turmoil in the Middle East, the South China Sea and elsewhere. Which road should the world and Japan take? The following interview is with Bill Gates, cochair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Yomiuri Shimbun: What do you think of Dr. Satoshi Omura winning the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for contributing to fight against river blindness?

Bill Gates: I think it is great recognition for the incredible work he does and just shows us that innovation in health is coming out of Japan. The avermectin that he was involved with is used for river blindness, but it actually is used for a large number of things. There are a lot of these so-called parasitic worm-like diseases and amazingly, avermectin has worked against most of them.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that my wife and I established is very involved in making sure those drugs get out. You only have to give them once a year and the actual drugs are donated. We are making sure that we get them delivered out to people.

I had a chance to sit next to Dr. Omura at lunch at the US Embassy the other day and talked to him quite a bit at length. It is well-deserved recognition, and he is continuing to do good science and working on some malaria things, so I enjoyed meeting him.

Q: How can we improve global issues with innovations in technology?

A: We have a lot of challenges. Climate change is a good example and Japan is one of the countries that committed to increase its energy research and development budget, which is very important to get these new low-cost sources of energy. My early career was all about the magic of software and the Microsoft work.

To read the full story, pick up the Jan. 4 edition of The Japan News.

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