In the fourth annual letter he has issued since 2009, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, challenges global leaders to invest in innovations that are making a difference for the world's poorest or risk a future in which millions in the developing world starve.
In his letter, Gates noted that over the past fifty years the percentage of the population living in poverty has fallen from 40 percent to 15 percent. But for the trend to continue, Gates added, donors must continue to make innovative investments in agriculture, helping small farmers to grow more food and achieve self-sufficiency, which, he argues, is the best way to fight hunger and extreme poverty among the poor n the developing world.
Gates' call for global leaders to invest in global anti-poverty efforts comes at a time when many donor nations, faced with economic uncertainty, have scaled back or defaulted on their aid commitments.
In the letter, Gates also announced that the inaugural $250,000 Gates Vaccine Innovation Award had been awarded to Dr. Asm Amjad Hossain, a former district immunization and surveillance medical officer in Bangladesh, for his success in increasing immunization rates in two Bangladesh districts among pregnant women, implementing annual vaccination schedules in rural Bangladeshi communities, and taking other steps to improve access to health workers.
"The world faces a choice," Gates wrote in his letter. "By spending a relatively little amount of money on proven solutions, we can help poor farmers feed themselves and their families and continue writing the story of a steadily more equitable world. Or we can decide to tolerate a very different world in which one in seven people needlessly lives on the edge of starvation."