Global Health Justice

August 25, 2019

Gates Foundation: Improve global health without addressing structural causes

Nicholas Kulish (NYTimes podcast/discussion) discusses how Bill Gates has defined problems and solutions to global health, avoiding structural change and protecting Big Pharma patent protections,  while burnishing his image as a global health savior: Gates is, in many ways, a representative figure…of an era where private companies have such a huge say in public health. He represents the limitations of what we’re willing to do, which is we don’t want to hurt the bottom lines of industry. And so as the essential player that he has built himself into in the past 20 years in global public health, to some extent, things are going to be done on his terms.”

Gates himself says “Any problem I will look at how technical innovation can help solve that problem. It’s the one thing I know and the one thing I’m good at. That’s my hammer. And a lot of problems look like nails, because I’ve got a hammer.” From inside Bill’s Brain” documentary

The foundation comes up with technological solutions to solve health challenges in resource-poor settings without addressing the fundamental cause of resource scarcity: global theft and tax evasion. Gates himself (and Microsoft under his watch) is guilty of enormous tax evasion and avoidance, through the same mechanisms that has drained the Global South of its resources.  Forbes magazine (2017) estimated that Bill Gates has avoided $10-15 billion in taxes.

Guardian 2014

Bill Gates Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis also doesn’t challenge the neoliberal hyper-capitalist structure that has impeded efforts to address the crisis for the past 4 decades. NYTimes Book Review, Bill McKibben, 15 February 2021