TIME

Hope by the Numbers

The Microsoft founder and philanthropist spoke with TIME’s Nancy Gibbs about looking forward
FADHILA ATHUMANI, SALHATI HASSANI, HAILATI ALY, BILL GATES AND ASHA ATHUMANI IN THE VILLAGE OF KICHEBA IN THE TANGA REGION OF TANZANIA DURING AN AUGUST 2017 VISIT

You could argue that our failure to focus on what’s getting better suggests that the media generally is missing an enormous story. News by its nature is about a surprise. Which day do you cover malaria deaths being cut in half? Which day do you cover workplace accidents down by a factor of 50 over the 50-year period? It’s society doing what it’s supposed to do. People’s standards change. When I first went to Africa, I talked about how a single child dying was such a big deal because in the U.S., it’s rare. In some parts of Africa, because the death rate was so high, people actually waited to name their babies until they were 4 months old. And so the higher expectation is a good thing but it makes you feel that we’re still falling so far short.

You decided to focus on public health. Can you talk a little about what has surprised you most? Our global health work has exceeded our expectations. Being part of this movement, which has gotten childhood deaths down from over 12 million a year to about 5 million a year now, going from 1990 until today, and with a goal to

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from TIME

TIME2 min read
Aging with Olive
MORE THAN 10 YEARS HAVE PASSED since Elizabeth Strout introduced the world to retired teacher Olive Kitteridge, a character who is at once frank, frightening and full of wisdom, often in a single breath. Now, Strout brings her beloved protagonist bac
TIME2 min read
Conversation
WHAT YOU SAID ABOUT ... ‘I WOULD LIKE YOU TO DO US A FAVOR . . .’ The Oct. 7 cover stories on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump sparked debate among readers. Molly Ball’s feature on the inquiry led Chase Webb of Portland, Ore., to d
TIME3 min read
Making It Up, On Broadway
WHEN LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA WAS IN REHEARSALS for his breakout theatrical production In the Heights, he—along with his cast and crew—would break up the grueling schedule by sneaking off and improvising, spitting bits of rhymes and jokes. “We did it as a