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Bill Gates' 3rd Annual Letter

January 31, 2011

I'd be willing to bet Bill Gates sat down to write his annual letter long before popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt grabbed the attention of the world. Which makes his introductory remarks in this year's letter all the more powerful:

I believe it is in the rich world's enlightened self-interest to continue investing in foreign aid. If societies can't provide for people's basic health, if they can't feed and educate people, then their populations and problems will grow and the world will be a less stable place.

Whether you believe it is a moral or in the rich world's enlightened self-interest, securing the conditions that will lead to a healthy prosperous future for everyone is a goal I believe we all share....

I would have added "economic opportunity," "fair and free elections," "gender equality," and "rule of law" to the list. But the fact they're not on it doesn't lessen the significance of Mr. Gates' remarks. As the dominos in the Arab world start to topple, the global community is a less stable place than it was a month ago -- and is likely to remain so as long as supporters of the status quo ignore the grievances of restive populations in the Arab world and beyond.

The bulk of the letter looks at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's efforts to eradicate polio from the planet; scale up the distribution of vaccines, continue the fight against malaria, and reduce the mortality rate among children under the age of five in developing countries; fund new and cost-effective treatment and prevention approaches for HIV/AIDS; support the development of a new agricultural agenda for the continent of Africa; promote education reform, including an "excellence in teaching" agenda, in the United States; and encourage the spread of private philanthropy globally through the Giving Pledge.

You can download the letter (24 pages, PDF) here.

-- Mitch Nauffts

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