Bill Gates says next 10 years will be high risk for antibiotic resistant pandemic

As antibiotic-resistant superbugs continue to spread across the globe, people everywhere — especially those in the developing world — are vulnerable to pandemics, according to billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates.

Mr. Gates, who made his fortune as a co-founder of Microsoft, launched the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife in 2000 to improve healthcare and education, and to combat extreme poverty. The foundation's global health division places emphasis on fighting infectious disease in the developing world.

During an interview with BBC's Radio 4 covered by The Guardian, Mr. Gates said the success of antibiotics created a complacency in the treatment of infectious disease and now that complacency is being exposed by growing antibiotic resistance.

"I cross my fingers all the time that some epidemic like a big flu doesn't come along in the next 10 years," said Mr. Gates.

Mr. Gates argued that international cooperation needs to improve to beat back the threat of antibiotic resistance, citing the eradication of polio and smallpox as international collaborative efforts. He also said the criticism aimed at the World Health Organization for mistakes made during the Ebola crisis in West Africa was unfair because the organization wasn't staffed or funded to complete the tasks observers expected from it. WHO membership dues haven't increased in more than four decades, which means the core budget for the organization has been decreasing when adjusted for inflation.

"The cooperation that we have seen, I think, needs to intensify," said Mr. Gates during the interview. "It's the only way that global problems like epidemics will get solved and so [for] all the people who are negative on WHO, the message to take away from that is not that that kind of multilateral cooperative effort is doomed and the money is not well spent, rather that we actually need to broaden their capacity. We actually need to dedicate ourselves to this global cooperation."

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