The Microsoft co-founder and his wife issued a report that dove into public health achievements and scares.
Bill and Melinda Gates published their first ever annual "Goalkeepers" report that reveled in key medical advancements in public health issues but also took a deeper look into those that will require serious attention over the next 10 years. The positives they noted included fewer new cases of HIV infections and a lower childhood morality rate in the developed world. Family planning and female equality rounded out the negative list, but chronic and infectious diseases were imminently highlighted as well.
"The chronic diseases, including things like diabetes or Alzheimer's, neurological conditions, they are increasingly what the big problem is," Gates said in a conference call, according to Business Insider. "In a lot of the still-developing countries, you have infectious disease, whether it's malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, (tuberculosis), HIV, still in very large numbers."
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that by 2050, cases of Alzheimer's and dementia in the U.S. will triple. Factors like genetics and diet may be a cause for this rapid increase but scientists are generally unaware why these degenerative brain diseases are on the rise.
But, other diseases that are big killers in this country, like heart disease and cancer, have root causes that are more widely understood. Together, those illnesses are responsible for about 1.2 million deaths per year. These diseases are also more treatable. More accurate cancer diagnostic tools have been implemented even just this summer.
"I think you can be pretty hopeful there'll be big progress there," Gates said.
Infectious diseases are quite different, however. Poor sexual health activity, unsanitary eating and living conditions and disease-carrying bugs like mosquitos are huge promoters of illnesses around the world. Gates believes that charitable organizations like his, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and governments are responsible to deliver aid and health education to the people of these developing nations that depend on it. Often times, the people of those countries do not have officials in a position of power to help them themselves.
"There isn't the same type of market, the same type of opportunity to charge for drugs there," he said.
And HIV still remains an enormous concern, Gates said, since funding towards finding a cure has slowed while the population of Africa steadily increases — a recipe for the disease to spread and thrive once more.
"That's a scary prospect," Gates wrote in the report. "Without investments, we won't have the new discoveries that will make it easier to prevent the transmission of HIV."