Former Microsoft chairman and co-founder Bill Gates has warned that the world is heading for a disease epidemic in the near future, BBC News reports. In a talk delivered at the Ted convention, Gates told audience members that we need to learn from the Ebola crisis, adding that next time, “we may not be so lucky.”
Gates quoted statistics that date back to a similar epidemic: the Spanish flu of 1918, which caused the deaths of over 33 million people worldwide in less than 12 months.
In an article on the Time website, Gates laments that the Ebola crisis is evidence that we are simply “not prepared to deal with a global epidemic.” The billionaire philanthropist urges the world to be better prepared for any future epidemics.
“We can get ready, we don’t need to panic. We don’t need to hoard cans of spaghetti and hide in the basement… If there is any good to have come out of the Ebola crisis it is that it has acted as a early warning, a wake-up call.”
However, despite some pessimism, he believes that technology already exists which can help when a new crisis emerges, saying that it can play a huge role in preventing the spread of diseases. He also added that governments should look to how nations prepare themselves for war.
“Nato plays war games to check that people are well-trained and prepared. Now we need germ games.”
During his talk, Gates displayed a mock-up of an Ebola hospital to indicate how difficult it is for the doctors and nurses working in them. During the recent epidemic, the Gates Foundation — one of the largest foundations in the world which was started by Bill and his wife, Melinda Gates — assisted medical staff by shipping vests lined with ice-packs for protection and to keep cool.
Bill Gates — who recently came under fire from conspiracy theorists when he called for a world government — is no stranger to issues of disease and has contributed millions to the cause since forming the Gates Foundation in 2000.
Since March 2014, the Ebola epidemic had wiped out more than 10,000 people. Although the crisis has been subdued, Gates said that the situation has left a significant mark on the world, saying that “we know the cost of failing to act.”
While Bill Gates’ talk on future disease epidemics is not currently available yet, you can check out his other talks by visiting the Ted website here.