IF YOU look beyond the rich West, most of which has been in a funk ever since the financial crisis of 2007-08, the world has had an amazing run. Fully 6m fewer children under the age of five died in 2016 than in 1990. Never before have so many people been free of grinding poverty and ill health. Never have women been so unlikely to die as a result of giving birth, or to lose a baby to illness.
But the possibility that after this long winning streak humanity could be about to trip and fall is preoccupying Bill and Melinda Gates, a pair of self-described “impatient optimists” who run a foundation dedicated to solving the world’s problems. A report from the foundation published on September 13th suggests that progress on several fronts may be starting to falter.
For a variety of reasons, from demography to American and European politics, Mr Gates fears that campaigns to eradicate extreme poverty, HIV and malaria are going awry. He also believes that the rich world has not noticed. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has hitherto been characterised by confidence, especially about the potential for technological innovation to solve the world’s knottiest problems. So the change of mood is significant. Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, describes the report as “a wake-up call”. Read more via The Economist