Bill Gates on saving lives, and why I do what I do

Posted on May 24, 2013

Peter sent me a link to this interview with Bill Gates, and I thought I’d post it here because much of it resonates with the work I do.

One, because the below isn’t just relevant for public health, but for much public service delivery (this one is the astute interviewer, Ezra Klein):

EK: This gets into an interesting question about public health, which is that when we think about health-care challenges, we think primarily about technological challenges. We think about cures for cancer and vaccines for AIDs. But in public health, much of the challenge is logistical and organizational — how you deliver, how you organize, who you actually partner with.


The second because software I help make is actually being used to do exactly what Gates says is one of the most effective things against polio:

EK: So what did we learn that made eradication possible in India?

BG: The two things that were done super well were social mobilization and mapping where the houses were. When somebody would refuse to take the vaccine, they would mark it down and they would have either a political leader or religious leader come in and convince them.

Obviously, I/our team can take none of the credit for this, but kids in some of the most difficult environments in India (the slums of Calcutta) are using formhub to map households in that community, including whether children have been immunized against Polio. I should really write more about these kids, because they are so inspiring (and their visit to our Lab last month was so incredibly uplifting and re-affirming), but that’s for another day. Until then, I’ll leave you with a trailer them:

The Revolutionary Optimists – Theatrical Trailer from Grainger-Monsen Newnham on Vimeo.

(PS. Obvi, if you are in a city that has a theater showing the movie, go see it! Its absolutely brilliant.)