Bill Gates, the creator of Microsoft and the richest man in the world, shared with the readers of his blog his personal rating of scientific news, thanks to which the outgoing year will be remembered not only for political strife and economic turmoil.
“Today is not an easy time to look to the future with optimism. Barring an impressive global collaboration on Earth climate change and energy, TV screens and newspaper pages were filled with stories of war and terrorism. However, this flurry of negative emotions hid the real picture of what is happening in the world. I end this year with a list of news items that you may well have missed. This list is especially important this year,”Bill Gates told his blog readers.
Africa has lived a year without polio
On July 24, Nigeria celebrated exactly one year since there were no cases of localized polio, a serious and often fatal disease. Nigeria was the last country in Africa to end the spread of wild polio. This required inspecting all settlements in the north of the country, counting all children in every home, supplying everyone with polio vaccine several times a year, working closely with thousands of local leaders and propagandists, since extremist groups are operating in the regions. Nigeria's efforts show that smart strategy can work even in the most challenging conditions. The global campaign to eradicate polio began in 1988. Of the 125 countries where the disease was endemic, two now remain: Afghanistan and Pakistan. Currently, we can say 99% of the total eradication of poliomyelitis. And I am sure that we will finish this work.
Tyson fought for the honor of science
Astrophysicist Neil Tyson received a prestigious award from the National Academy of Sciences in April this year. But I included him in the list not because of this award, it is not the only one in Dr. Tyson's career. I included him on the list because of the brilliant speech he gave that day. This is the best argument I've heard that science plays a big role in policy making. And all this fits in 272 words. This talk is a must-see for all students, as are the early Tyson talks on which it is based.
Three people saving lives
On October 5th, I was awakened by the great news that the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to three scientists who have created indispensable tools to fight the diseases of the poor. The development of the American William Campbell and the Japanese Satoshi Omura became the basis for the creation of "Ivermectin" - a medicine that saves, for example, from diseases such as onchocerciasis or filariasis caused by parasitic worms. In addition, the representative of Chinese science Tu Yuyu was awarded for the creation of "Artemisinin" - a drug that made malaria a curable disease and saves 100 thousand lives annually. These drugs are a real miracle, made a reality thanks to scientific discoveries.
In June of this year, the company that created the SAT (a two-part student aptitude test in the United States and is offered to all applicants to the university) provided assistance to the Khan Academy (Khan Academy, a non-profit educational structure supported by the Bill and Melinda Foundation Gates) to create an online portal to help pupils and students prepare for exams. Check yourself on it. If you and I are like you, you will study all these interactive lessons and lectures and will bitterly regret that there was no such portal at the time when you were in school. Can you imagine what it means for children whose parents cannot afford expensive preparatory classes and tutors?
Mobile banking - optimistic forecast
As Melinda (Bill Gates' wife) and I have already mentioned in my annual address, mobile banking is today the best way to help people get out of poverty. More than two billion people on Earth now have no access to financial services, the ability to take out loans, invest, in general, participate in economic processes. But the situation is changing. A new report from researchers at the Brookings Institution (a research institute in the US) shows that many countries are pushing for mobile banking to be included in their national (authorities) obligations. If in 2011 only 42% of the adult population had bank accounts and used the services of mobile financial institutions, now this figure is already 75%. Brazil, Rwanda, Tanzania, Bangladesh and India are on the list of countries that are making progress. When I traveled to these countries, I saw that digital financial innovation here sometimes even outstrips the "rich" countries.
USA defeated rubella
In April, health officials declared the United States the first country in the world to completely defeat endemic rubella (a dangerous viral disease, the so-called "third disease" leading to severe malformations in newborns). A 15-year effort to vaccinate men, women and children led to this. The rubella campaign saved more than 100,000 children from the disease and saved $ 3 billion in other major health issues. And this is not only an impulse, an impetus for the eradication of rubella on a global scale. It is also an impetus for the fight against measles - a more deadly and contagious disease - because measles and rubella vaccines are combined.