Billionaire Bill Gates says he is ready to use up his entire fortune to rid the world of polio.
The Microsoft co-founder, said to be worth £41bn ($65bn), says he has no need for money any more as he is “well taken care of” for food and clothes.
Instead, he and wife Melinda want to change the lives of the poorest people in the world and see an end to the disease that paralyses 1,000 children a year. So far Gates and his wife have given away $28bn of their fortune through their charitable foundation, with more than $8?billion of it to improving global health.
The college dropout, 57, has committed another $1.8bn to fighting polio over the next six years by giving children in infected regions just three vaccination drops.
Gates said: “Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point. Its utility is entirely in building an organisation and getting the resources out to the poorest in the world.”
The second richest man in the world, Gates will deliver the BBC’s Dimbleby Lecture later this month, using the value of young human life as his central theme. In that speech he is expected to talk about his dream of every child having the right to a healthy and productive life. He will also explain how technology and innovation can help the world reach his goal.
Gates says he wants to give back to the world that has given him so much. The dad-of-three said: “My wife and I had a long dialogue about how we were going to take the wealth that we’re lucky enough to have and give it back in a way that’s most impactful to the world.
“Both of us worked at Microsoft and saw that if you take innovation and smart people, the ability to measure what’s working, that you can pull together some pretty dramatic things.
“We’re focused on the help of the poorest in the world, which really drives you into vaccination. You can actually take a disease and get rid of it altogether, like we are doing with polio. Polio’s pretty special because once you get an eradication you no longer have to spend money on it; it’s just there as a gift for the rest of time.”
When polio is beaten, Gates said, he will turn his attention to combating malaria and measles.
Even with his charity, he admits he will still be able to leave his children with “a billion or so” each.