Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said that the world should learn from the experience with the Ebola epidemic in order to be equipped to battle with a potential global killer disease in the future.
The philanthropist said that a technology-based action plan is crucial to guard against possible pandemics that may occur in the future, similar to preparing for war. He also shared how his foundation makes use of technology to fight diseases.
"We use satellite photos to find out where people are living, we use a GPS tracker with a cell phone so that we can see if the vaccine team is going to every place they're supposed to go, we do statistical analysis within a few days to see if there's any kids that we missed," Gates said.
Gates said that the risk of a global pandemic means it would be reckless not to act now and that one strategy that can be adopted for future outbreaks is the creation of volunteer teams that are able to respond quickly to public health emergencies, a similar scheme that was developed in the countries that were hardest hit by the Ebola epidemic: Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
In an interview, the billionaire said that a pathogen more difficult than Ebola could possibly come along. It may be a form of SARS or flu, or some viruses that have not yet been seen before.
"We don't know it will happen but it's a high enough chance that one of the lessons of Ebola should be to ask ourselves: are we as ready for that as we should be? A good comparison is that we prepare ourselves for war -- we have planes and training and we practice," Gates said.
Gates expressed his fears in Berlin, where he attended a donor conference of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) alliance, which brings vaccines to the world's poor countries.
Gates, named by Forbes magazine as the richest man in the world having a net worth of about $80 billion, founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife. The charity organization is among the most generous contributors of the GAVI alliance topping the donation list at $1.55 billion.
GAVI alliance has drawn pledges of $7.5 billion from international donors on Tuesday to immunize 300 children in poor nations over the next five years against potentially fatal diseases such as diarrhea and pneumonia.