On Friday I talked at the World Economic Forum about how I see the next 10 years as the Decade of Vaccines – a time when we will make more progress than ever on immunisations that save lives in the developing world.
The Decade of Vaccines will build on the phenomenal progress of the past 10 years. Since its creation in 2000, the GAVI Alliance has helped immunise more than 250m children in poor countries, averting 5m deaths and preventing a great deal of sickness and suffering. (You can read more about GAVI’s work in my 2010 Annual Letter, which was released this week.)
One of the big topics of conversation here in Davos is the economy. In panel discussions and hallway conversations, people are talking about the long-term effects of the recession of 2009. While it’s true that we will see lingering unemployment and huge government deficits for quite some time, I think the big story is actually much more positive. I believe we can make amazing progress in the years ahead to improve people’s lives around the world. The key is to keep investing in innovation. It is what makes the difference between a bleak future and a bright one.
During the past two centuries, a huge number of innovations have fundamentally changed the human condition-more than doubling our life span and giving us cheap energy and more food. If we project what the world will be like ten years from now without continuing innovation in health, energy, or food, the picture is quite dark. Health costs for the rich will keep escalating, forcing tough trade-offs, and the poor will be stuck in the bad situation they are in today. We will have to increase the price of energy to reduce consumption, and the poor will suffer from both this higher cost and the effects of climate change. We will have big food shortages because we won’t have enough land to feed the world’s growing population.