Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bill Gates: Vaccinations Reduce Sickness, Improve Quality of Life, Develop Economies

Bill Gates is expanding his humanitarian focus and in his Annual Letter of 2013 outlines reasons worldwide vaccinations are essential.

Fewer Diseases Result in Stronger National Economies

Gates said that "In the same way that during my Microsoft career I talked about the magic of software, I now spend my time talking about the magic of vaccines. Vaccines have taken us to the threshold of eradicating polio. They are the most effective and cost-effective health tool ever invented. I like to say vaccines are a miracle. Just a few doses of vaccine can protect a child from debilitating and deadly diseases for a lifetime. And most vaccines are extremely inexpensive." 

He claims vaccinations lead to better quality of life with more health, education, and business opportunities. And vaccinations reduce sickness from disease, both the initial temporary acute sickness, and the permanent mental disabilities and the effect on cerebral development for survivors. A brain needs nutrition to develop, and cannot do so with sickness in the body that vaccinations help prevent. 

A child can lose a lot of potential by five years of age. And Bill Gates has found studies that  correlate lower IQs to high levels of disease in any country. And although IQ tests are imperfect, the dramatic effect on the population is "a huge injustice" to all citizens, he says. Vaccinations are important because they make people healthier. And healthier individuals can help develop economies. 

Vaccinations begin a Virtuous Circle

Another benefit of vaccinations is that parents have fewer children. "It might seem logical" Gates says, "that saving children's lives will cause overpopulation, the opposite is true." It might take years, but "as the childhood death rate is reduced, within 10 to 20 years this reduction is strongly associated with families choosing to have fewer children."

The rate of childhood deaths is reduced as a direct benefit of vaccinations. And parents with fewer children tend to have more time and money to spend on each one because vaccinated children live longer. And these children tend to get more education and job opportunities. So it's a virtuous circle, a constantly re-inforced win-win outcome all round.

Gates said that UNICEF, headed by Jim Grant, raised vaccination rates from 20% to 70% between 1980 and 1995. A free copy of Grant's book is here.

Gates writes that "Vaccines are the best investment to improve the human condition." And that's a weighty statement from the individual who was wealthiest person in the world for many years, and the former head of a global computer giant. And computers have infinitely improved the human condition. Bottom line: vaccinations improve business.

And Gates adds that childhood health issues are key to so many other issues, such as "having resources for education, providing enough jobs and not destroying the environment."

You can read his letter in its entirety here. And thank you for reading my summary.

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