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a581: Bill Gate's helping Haiti (fwd)

From: Stanley Lucas <slucas@iri.org>

Bill's Biggest Bet Yet
The richest people on earth have created a fund of more than $24 billion to save the poorest from disease. How much of a difference can Bill and Melinda Gates make?

    By Geoffrey Cowley

   THE FLIGHT IS PACKED most weekday mornings. But except for a few
 missionaries, it doesn't seem to attract many northerners. The State
 Department's online guidebook is not particularly enticing. "There are no
 'safe areas' in Haiti," it advises. "Crime, already a problem, is
 growing... with reports of armed robberies and break-ins, kidnappings,
 murders and car hijackings becoming more frequent. The police are poorly
 equipped and unable to respond quickly to calls for assistance. Criminals
 have kidnapped, shot, maimed and killed several U.S. citizens in recent
 years." Even if you escape the criminals you must avoid crowds, the
 advisory cautions, because "the rhetoric of some activists and popular
 organizations has been anti-foreign, and the Haitian government has
 failed to contain or condemn certain violent and dangerous situations."

         For some reason, no one in the Port-au-Prince airport seems
 terribly worried. The mood is festive despite the sweltering heat. And
 though Haiti has a population of 8 million, you get the feeling that
 everyone knows each other. WE ARE SORRY TO WELCOME YOU IN THIS CONDITION,
 says a large sign on the dilapidated wall. WE ARE WORKING HARD TO IMPROVE
 YOUR COMFORT. The crowds of people outside are carrying babies and
 Bibles, not machetes. And as you quickly discover, most are struggling
 desperately to get by. Cite Soleil, the capital's front door, is a
 27-square-mile slum where an estimated 1 million people live in shanties
 lacking plumbing, electricity or permanent roofs. The living standard
 rises steadily as you pass through the downtown area and into the hilly
 suburbs, but electrical service is sporadic even in the business
 district, where trash piles smolder on dusty, pitted roads and abandoned
 car chassis double as fences. Per capita income stands at $1.26 a day in
 Haiti, and health-care spending averages $16 per year. One child in nine
 dies before reaching school age. "Sa Poun Fe?" pleads a popular dance
 tune: What can we do?
Newsweek On Air

         Cut to Redmond, Wash. A gaggle of khaki-clad Microsoft executives
 are seated in a small conference room across the hall from Bill Gates's
 office. They'll have to wait a few more minutes. Right now he is focused
 on the same question as the folks in Port-au-Prince: What can we do?

Gates's Big Gamble on Health

* Bill's Biggest Bet Yet
* 'I Told a Friend: Africa Changed Me'
* Charities That Hate to Just 'Give'

         If you're the richest man on earth, it's not a rhetorical
 question. Gates could probably buy Haiti without a mortgage, but he isn't
 looking to rescue a particular country. His goal is to bridge the most
 fundamental gap separating the poor countries of the world from the rich
 ones: the gap in human health. His manner doesn't betray a lot of
 softhearted emotion; he rocks slightly as he talks, using eye contact
 only as punctuation. He speaks more freely of strategies than goals, and
 seems more moved by numbers than by anecdotes. But the numbers are
 daunting and he knows them by heart. Infections that can be prevented or
 treated for pennies are killing 11 million people every year. Two billion
 lack access to basic, low-cost medicine, such as penicillin. As U.S. life
 expectancy approaches 80, some 27 countries have yet to achieve life
 expectancies of 50.