Bill Gates makes strides in combating polio

(CBS News) DAVOS, Switzerland - The world's largest private charity is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The founder of Microsoft and his wife are spending billions of dollars to eradicate diseases overseas and reform education here in the U.S.

Gates is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which, every year, attracts the globe's top leaders. Gates spoke with CBS News Friday about the progress that he's making against diseases that kill children by the millions.

ANTHONY MASON: You're a regular here at Davos. What's the value in coming here for you?

BILL GATES: There's a great opportunity to meet with corporate leaders, government leaders, talk about the foundation's partnership with them. I get up to date, and I'd have to fly a lot of places to do the equivalent.

In the corridors and meeting rooms in Davos, the world's most prominent philanthropist is keeping up his campaign to help the poorest children of the world. A top priority of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been to eradicate polio. The Gateses have committed a billion dollars to fighting the disease and have almost beaten it.

GATES: We started with 400,000 kids a year being paralyzed and now less than 250. So we're pretty close.

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MASON: And what's the next mountain to climb here?

GATES: Well, the figure we always look at is reducing the children under 5 who die, and that was 12 million back in 1990. It's under 7 million now. So by 2015 we will have cut it in half. And then the goal is to cut it in half again in the next 15 years.

MASON: Are you getting the money you need? Are governments, given the economic climate, coming forward?

GATES: Well, it really hangs in the balance because budgets are tighter than ever.

MASON: And there's never enough money, really, is there?

GATES: That's right. Whether it's funding scientists to create the new inventions or getting them out there, every time I visit, I say I wish we could move faster.

The scope of Gates' efforts is truly monumental. As the world's largest private philanthropy, his foundation has paid out $25 billion in grants since it was founded.

  • Anthony Mason

    CBS News senior business and economics correspondent; Co-host, "CBS This Morning: Saturday"

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