Bill Gates, Dr. Paul Farmer, and African Tycoon Strive Masiyiwa on Combating Future Epidemics

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Forbes 400 Fellow Katie Meyler’s voice trembled and her eyes teared up as she told a roomful of billionaires and philanthropists gathered for the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy Wednesday the plight of Sarah, a 10-year old girl from Liberia who lost her father and sister to Ebola before the disease killed her, too.

“How can we let this happen to one another?” asked Meyler, founder of More Than Me, an academy that provides education for girls in Liberia. “It’s not going to be okay until we make sure this doesn’t ever happen again.”

Rajesh Panjabi, also a Forbes 400 Fellow and co-founder of Last Mile Health, an organization that trains community health workers in rural Liberia and also supported the fight against Ebola, recalled what happened at Rivercess county in Liberia when the epidemic struck. After one woman died of Ebola, he said, the 12 people who attended her funeral were infected and died, too.

How can the world prepare for a future epidemic — the next Ebola? Is it possible to develop treatment for diseases that have not yet emerged? Such were the questions billionaire Bill Gates, renowned doctor Paul Farmer and Zimbabwe’s richest man and telecom mogul Strive Masiyiwa tackled after Meyler and Panjabi told their stories.

Farmer, who was presented with the Forbes 400 Lifetime Achievement Award for Social Entrepreneurship by former President Bill Clinton, said simply: “The key lesson from tackling Ebola is unglamorous: strengthen local health systems.”

Source: Forbes (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
infectious diseases