The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has been very active in Africa and has been responsible in no small part for the significant reduction of Malaria. Those of us who grew up in Malaria infested regions know how bad things were. I first contracted Malaria when I was 11, and that was considered late. For those of you lucky enough to not know what malaria is or how bad it is let me say, a friend of mine from Malawi, of similar age who just recently recovered from COVID19 described the Corona episode to me as: “It’s like having Malaria, only worse because you can’t breathe”. The Gates have quite a strong standing in terms of good health outcomes in Africa and a lot of experience in this area. This current backlash against vaccines is frankly absurd. It has gone from “don’t test vaccines in Africa” (a reasonable fear perhaps) to “we don’t want vaccines”. We are alive today because we have vaccines against smallpox,polio,meningitis,Tetanus etc etc.. these diseases that we don’t even think about these days used to kill millions of people. A malaria vaccine which is one of the foundation’s endeavours would radically change Africa and the lives of the most underprivileged. Where would such a vaccine be tested? In Switzerland where there is no Malaria? You may disagree with Bill Gates but if you do, it should be grounded in facts and evidence and reasoned debate. The language we hear about him being the Devil, evil incarnate and so forth, is frankly disappointing, especially when it comes from supposedly educated people. It is inaccurate to say Bill Gate’s livelihood depends on his efforts in Africa or our suffering. How? An upper middle class American will make about 5 Million dollars in her lifetime. Bill gates has enough money to live, literally, 20,000 such lifetimes. So whatever he is after, it isn’t money. I notice how people fawn over Oprah who does a lot of damage to the cause of science. She is a billionaire too, and a not particularly enlightened one, but somehow her likability gives her a pass with anyone whose decision ethos is based on emotion. I personally see no reason other than the comfortable cynicism we have against anybody with money that is white and male (I’m being honest) to believe his intentions are bad. Maybe he has communicated badly, or maybe he is disconnected from the poor (not so sure about this either), but evil? No. There is no evidence of that, and evidence is how we should make up our minds. Now, because the written word can fail to convey a person’s emotion or demeanour in the way that a face-to-face conversation can, let me just end by saying I write all this not in anger, but with a little frustration. In a world where developed nations (especially the US) are becoming skeptical of reason and science and opting for inexplicable outrage and new age “knowledge”, it becomes even harder for developing nations (where I am from and live for good parts of the year) to embrace science and reasoned enlightenment over superstition. Nevertheless, I hope that meeting some of this unfounded anger and race-baiting criticism (as opposed to a well thought out anti-institutional racism stance), with reasoned responses can help ebb this tide of anti-intellectualism and stop the vilification of people who’s intentions and track records have so far been good. After all, there are plenty of powerful people who are real threats in the world in this COVID19 era. One of them right now, is the so-called “leader” of the so-called “free world”.
Great post Said. Recently watched “Inside Bill’s Brain”. I was impressed by the world problems he has been tackling. We just have to have some faith on human race and believe not all rich white man are evil, like the “leader” you referred in the post.
Thank you for reading and for commenting and yes I agree with you 100%. I confess I was advised to watch that a while back but haven’t yet. I will do so . Thanks again.