This week I'm blogging from the Clinton Global Initiative 2010 Annual Meeting. In this post I highlight a comment by Bill Gates during the Closing Plenary session on Day 3. For links to all my CGI coverage click here.
Bill Gates and President Clinton on stage a the CGI Closing Plenary. (screenshot of archived webcast)
A quick note...
I just attended the Closing Plenary session here at CGI. President Obama, Michelle Obama, and Bill Gates were among the speakers (click here for the full webcast). During Gates's time on stage he shared an amazing story about polio.
He said we've eliminated 99% of all polio cases; and that at it's height there were about 500,000 children per year paralyzed or killed, whereas now new cases are down to 2,000 per year. He pointed out that "It can be the second disease we've eliminated. The first was smallpox back in 1977."
The problem is this opportunity to eradicate the disease comes at a time when, in the last push, "the cost per case is astronomic." But, as Gates continues:
...but then again you buy all the future benefit of no one ever getting it again. And you don't even have to do all these future campaigns like we do again and again and again. So actually a long-term analysis says this is the best, best deal around, but you have to do it now, or else you completely miss. If we don't fund this one - it's about $900 million a year for the last three plus years - it will escape and then we'll never get it and people will lose hope."
Gates's stress on the need for urgent action now seemed to me to parallel what we've been saying for years on taking action on climate change. His entire sentiment can be applied to a host of urgent issues and is well worth saying again and again. Action now is the best deal around!
To view the section of the webcast where Bill Gates talks about the eradication of polio start at 10:55 and watch until 12:43.