Philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates have shared an optimistic view on future for the world’s poor.
In their sixth yearly letter the couple argue against three myths they say hinder efforts to end poverty and suffering.
Bill and Melinda seek to dispel the beliefs that poor countries are destined to stay poor, that foreign aid is inefficient, and that saving lives will lead to overpopulation.
Gates says that GDP per capita figures, adjusted for inflation to 2005 dollars, show that many countries such as China, India, Brazil and even Botswana that were once considered poor now have growing economies.
And in Africa, life expectancy has risen since the 1960s despite the HIV epidemic. Besides, more children are going to school and fewer people are hungry.
“I am optimistic enough about this that I am willing to make a prediction,” he said. “By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world.”
Gates further refutes the claims that foreign aid is ineffective because it is too expensive, because it is stolen by corrupt officials in receiving countries, or because countries who receive it become dependent on it.
He notes, that, for example, measles vaccinations, eradicating smallpox, controlling tuberculosis in China and a plan to eliminate polio in Latin America are all public health efforts achieved with aid funding.
“When I look at how many fewer children are dying than 30 years ago, and how many people are living longer and healthier lives, I get quite optimistic about the future,” he writes.
In her part of the letter, Melinda, dispels the myth that saving lives worldwide will cause overpopulation. She points to countries such as Brazil where both child mortality and birth rates have declined.
The US-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the world’s largest charitable foundation and has made $28.3 billion in grant payments since its inception 13 years ago.