All Articles Leadership Melinda Gates: "There's nothing we do alone" to solve global problems

Melinda Gates: “There’s nothing we do alone” to solve global problems

Collaboration, data help to address the world’s most pressing public health and education challenges.

2 min read


Melinda Gates

Russell Watkins/Department for International Development (UK) via Flickr

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s vaccine-related work has helped to cut global childhood mortality rates in half since 1990.

To be a leader in this and other global and domestic initiatives in health and education, the Gates Foundation calls upon governments, organizations and private industry to collaborate.“There’s nothing we do alone, not a single thing our foundation does alone,” said Melinda Gates, foundation co-chair, at an American Enterprise Institute event last month.

Gates said her hope for the foundation is to act as the “catalytic wedge” that takes the financial risks other organizations cannot afford until the program is proven effective.

“For the problems we’re trying to solve in the world, it takes gov ernment funding to fund these things, even the vaccine work we’ve done,” she said, citing the example of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s collaboration with the GAVI Alliance.

The Gates Foundation has committed $2.5 billion to GAVI since 1999 in order to eradicate polio, but it is the responsibility of local governments to continue funding the programs started by the partnership for long term-sustainability.

“We put in over a billion and a half dollars, but governments have put in tens of billions of dollars,” she added.

Collaborative aid can jumpstart a nation’s self-sufficiency, Gates said. “We used to give aid to South Korea; we don’t any longer. South Korea got onto this virtuous cycle, it’s lifted itself up. It now gives foreign aid.”

Data tools are key for tracking the progress of investments, filling knowledge gaps and receiving reliable feedback. In May, for example, the Gates Foundation granted $10 million to the United States Fund for UNICEF to analyze and report on data collected on women, children and adolescent’s health. If the data “doesn’t exist we find a partner and we help fund them to create the data system,” Gates said.

The Gates Foundation has worked in all 50 states in the U.S. and over 100 countries, paying out $36 billion in grants since their outset. “To know that even one life has breathed easier since you have lived, this is to have succeeded,” said Gates.


Christopher Ruiz is a student at the University of Maryland and is SmartBrief’s 2016 editorial summer intern.

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