Bill and Melina Gates: Autopsies Could Prevent Epidemics, Save Countless Lives

Friday, May 15, 2015

Bill and Melinda Gates believe that performing “minimal autopsies” on dead children could save countless lives.

Last week, the Gates Foundation announced that it was investing $75 million in a series of “disease surveillance sites” that will conduct post-mortem examinations on children in order to figure out “how, where and why children are getting sick and dying.” Dubbed the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance Network, or CHAMPS, the program will initially be launched in six locations in Africa and South Asia.

“The world needs better, more timely public health data not only to prepare for the next epidemic, but to save children’s lives now,” said Bill Gates, per a news release. “Over the past 15 years, deaths of children in developing countries have been dramatically reduced, but to continue that trend for the next 15 years, we need more definitive data about where and why children are dying. This will also better position us to respond to other diseases that may turn into an epidemic.”

In a recent interview with OZY, the Microsoft co-founder explained how and whyminimally-invasive autopsies could prevent the spread of disease and spot emerging epidemics.

“In poor countries, autopsies are not done. It takes too much skill and too much finance, and you wouldn’t get permission much,” Gates said. “But the idea that you can just gather a few samples that don’t cause any defacement [to the body], and see what was in the lungs, what was in the blood, what was in the stool, then we can ascribe the diarrheal death to a particular thing. That is so important as we decide what vaccines are needed, what antibiotics are needed, and see what’s going on with these diseases.”

Source: The Huffington Post (link opens in a new window)

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Health Care
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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, global health, health care, public health