With plans to give away $60 billion, Bill and Melinda Gates have now become the most generous philanthropists in the world. What would you do with $60 billion?
Well, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation wants to make American kids among the best educated on Earth, and while they're doing that the Gates also intend to save millions of lives worldwide. The foundation has been running for ten years.
The Gates have shunned publicity for the most part. But, recently, Melinda Gates agreed to travel around the globe to show "60 Minutes" how they're giving a fortune away. And with a world of trouble, what was the first thing she wanted us to see? The north of India, where it is a short drive from the big city to the Middle Ages.
In the countryside of India's most crowded state, Uttar Pradesh, often, food is scarce, electricity nonexistent, women and infants die in childbirth, and medicine remains in the realm of superstition. It's exactly what Melinda Gates is looking for - a neglected crisis where her investment can save the most lives.
How do you give away $60 billion? Scott Pelley spent time with Bill and Melinda Gates, the world's richest couple, who have pledged their fortune to help those in need.
Watch: Scott Pelley's Facebook Chat
Extra: Gates on Population Rates
Extra: Saving Babies' Lives
Extra: Bill Gates' Second Career
"Our belief is that all lives, no matter where they're lived on the globe, have equal value, all lives," she told correspondent Scott Pelley.
Asked what the foundation's global priorities are, Gates said, "HIV/AIDS, malaria, mother-and-child deaths, in that order."
"Why those?" Pelley asked.
"When you looked at where the largest number of deaths were on the planet, they were from things like AIDS, malaria and these childhood deaths. And nobody was giving voice to them. And no one was really tackling them. So, we said systematically, 'Those are places that we wanna go and work,'" she explained.
It might be occurring to you right about now that you haven't seen the world's richest woman before. She's not the type to stand on a red carpet with million-dollar earrings. Melinda Gates, 46 years old, from Dallas, is a former Microsoft executive who managed 800 people in software development and marketing.
Now, the work of the foundation is her obsession. This trip with "60 Minutes" wasn't a "photo-op." In fact, it took a year to convince her to let us come along. She travels often, probing for facts, analyzing needs, measuring the misery.
"I have to be here. To see it, and to feel it, and to understand, you know, what motivates these people. What is it that they're doing for their livelihood? Unless I see it and feel it and touch it, I just don't feel like I can do the foundation justice in terms of what we're trying to accomplish," she explained.
What she's trying to accomplish in India is saving lives at birth. In India alone, one million babies die every year before they're a month old.
"I wonder which ladies in this audience have lost a child shortly after childbirth?" Pelley asked a group of villagers.
"Oh, look at that. 1, 2, 3…16. It's a common experience in this village," he noted, after a lot of hands went up.
This is a great example of exactly how the foundation works. The foundation poured money into research to understand the problem. It found that, by tradition, childbirth is considered unclean there. Babies are often left on dirt floors, uncovered, while the mother is tended to first.
The foundation tested solutions, trained health care workers to use sterilized tools and taught the mothers to keep the baby warm; simple, inexpensive ideas that have reduced deaths there by half. Part of the foundation's strategy is to team up with governments and other charities to make the money go farther and spread the best ideas.
"These deaths of children under five have come down substantially; 1960 it was 20 million under the age of five that died. Now it's nine million children. That's still too many," Gates told Pelley. "Every year, nine million children die. We can get that down."