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Bill Gates: World Is Vulnerable To Deadly Flu Epidemic In Next Decade

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The issue of most illnesses becoming too resistant to antibiotic treatment has now made even Bill Gates, one of the richest men in the world, fearful about the future of public health.

In an interview with the BBC this week, Gates shared his concern about the world not being able to properly deal with deadly epidemics. He pointed out that there were some weaknesses in how global agencies handled previous health crises such as the Zika and Ebola outbreaks.

The Microsoft founder and philanthropist, whose foundation has been helping improve public healthcare in developing countries through investments, said the world's response system was not strong enough, and that drug and vaccine production was not fast enough to cope with the emergencies.

Gates added that more focus should be placed on coming up with treatments that would address disease outbreaks.

"I cross my fingers all the time that some epidemic like a big flu doesn't come along in the next 10 years," Gates said.

Defending The World Health Organization

Despite highlighting the inadequacies of emergency response systems, Gates spoke in support of the World Health Organization (WHO), which was heavily criticized for its handling of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that killed thousands of people in 2014.

Gates said the WHO was not provided with the necessary funds and staff to meet the expectations in dealing with such a crisis.

Another point of concern that the billionaire philanthropist raised on the BBC program was that of the increasing resistance of certain epidemics to antibiotic treatments. He said that the successful use of antibiotics to treat diseases has created a sense of complacency.

Microbes are becoming increasingly resistant to treatment because of the misuse and over use of antibiotic drugs. This is already starting to make malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV treatments more difficult for doctors.

Gates urged developed countries to help out their poorer neighbors in tackling disease outbreaks, both for their own self-interest and humanitarian reasons.

He explained that cooperation between countries had nearly succeeded in rooting out the poliomyelitis from the world. The debilitating disease is endemic only to regions in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Researchers hope that no additional cases of polio would be detected for the next three years, so that they could finally declare the disease to be eradicated. This would make polio the second human illness after smallpox to be wiped out.

"We're very close. Hopefully, the last case will be some time next year," Gates said.

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