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January 25th, 2011
03:52 PM ET

A doctor in Davos

I flew into Zurich, Switzerland this morning, and then traveled two hours to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF). On the way, I learned Davos is Europe’s highest-altitude city. It is a small and remote place with only around 13,000 residents and only one road in and out. The WEF is a five-day meeting where 2,500 of the world’s top business leaders, heads of state, and public figures get together to try to solve the problems confronting the other nearly 7 billion of us.

It is a remarkable concentration of some of the best minds in business, technology and politics – all together in one remote destination. I can tell you, despite its high-profile attendees, the forum isn’t official or formal.  Former President Clinton is just "Bill" here in Davos. There are no titles, and there are no fancy restaurants. Most of the attendees hang out in the cafeteria hall.

To be clear, though, there are two meetings going on here. After the panels are completed, there are dozens of private gatherings where some of the real work gets done. If you have heard of the Global Health Initiative, you may also know that Kofi Annan launched it at the 2002 annual meeting. The mission was to take advantage of the public/private partnerships towards combating malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. In 1989, North and South Korea spoke for the first time here at Davos.

If you are surprised that a doctor is attending the meeting, I shared that sentiment until I started learning about the objectives of this annual meeting, which has been held since 1987. (Since 1971 as the European Management Forum). Turns out health, and its impact on economic development, are big topics here. In terms of health care delivery, there is growing recognition by the forum that existing models simply aren’t sustainable in developed countries, and there simply isn’t enough access in the developing world. Some of that is old news, but the topics at Davos were chosen to address solutions in these areas. For example, I will be moderating panel discussions on topics ranging from personalized medicine to combating chronic disease.

Bill Gates and I will sit down and talk about eradicating polio in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He believes the effort is one of the most productive ways of stabilizing this war-torn region. He is here to encourage world leaders not to shy away from funding global health, because the returns are so enormous in terms of good health and good will. Craig Venter and I will discuss his creating a synthetic bacteria designed on a computer using man-made DNA. And, I am especially interested in sitting down with President Paul Kagame to talk about how he turned post genocide Rwanda into one of the safest and cleanest countries in Africa. He has done everything from simply eliminating the use of plastic bags to setting up a national health care system.

No doubt, many are interested in instant answers and headlines, and that is unlikely in this mountaintop town, even with this collaboration. And, Davos alone won’t change some of the real health challenges the world faces, but for the next five days, the sharpest minds in the world will be focused on these issues.


soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Ricardo

    So Bill gates is now eradicating polio from Muslim Afghanistan and Pakistan. Nice. Those kids when they grow up, will shoot some Americans. Polio cripples a few, Muslim terrorists cripple many times more. You can not argue with facts Billy. Keep that political correctness aside and see what's more damaging.

    January 25, 2011 at 19:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mca

      You are likely correct. Your sentiments is not new. 5, 10, 20 or more years ago someone felt the same way too although the countries involved were different, the general situation were the same. Good and Evil will always be co-existing. Doing good regardless of where it is done doesn't mean evil will stop. In the same manner, it should not let anyone stop doing good at the same time. It is the purpose of life whether one agrees or not. Whether the beneficiary of that goodwill returns the favor or not should not make those who want to do good stop them from doing it. This is what I believe why the people who choose to help do what they do. There will always be people who choose to help even though the easiest thing to do is not help, in the same manner, there are those who chooses to not help because it is not beneficial for them at all. It is a choice each and everyone make everyday. The people who meet at Davos have made their choice and for that I respect them.

      January 25, 2011 at 20:58 | Report abuse |
    • Ralph Colon

      Dear Mr. Bill Gates

      I write to you today hope and pray that the assistant who is reading this letter will pass it on to you. I will continue to try to get this message to you until you reply to this letter. I will also pass this letter to Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN to pass it to you. I know you are a very busy man, but my concern is the interview you had on CNN with Dr. Gupta on vaccines and Autism. I am proud to know the work you do all over this world with children and health issues, and I am sure the God of our universe and of this small blue planet is very pleased with you. Jenny McCarthy and Dr. Wakefield have done a great injustice to our children, by convincing many parents not to vaccinate their children. Many Children have died just as you said, this is true.

      Mr. Gates for the pass three years I have been knocking on wealthy people’s e-mails for sponsorship on a book I wrote entailing the true nature of how and why we have this mega population of Autism Children in this country. It’s the true story of a cover-up formula (as I put it) or you might say a well controlled recipe created over 30 years ago that is given to our children who are born normal, then in time 3 to 5 years of age they turn Autism. A well created system that no one can see but only the ones who started it all. This formula was given to my grandbaby, but instead of spreading it through time as they have been doing to all children, they compact it in excessive amounts and shorten the time length to 9 months instead of 3 to 5 years; my grandson almost died in the 9 months of bloody horror to experiment the outcome. Of course, All Children Hospital of St. Petersburg saved his life and could not believe that my son lived through this experiment. It seems that many children die each year due to this course, but is kept away from the media. The ones who do survive turn Autism, Developmental Delay. They told us that he will never be the same again, and today he is Autism. Of course, we could not file a lawsuit because of the new law with malpractice lawsuits and we did not have any money to make it happen.

      I conducted an in-depth research and found out that what they did to my grandson has and is being done to every child in America for over 30 years, and to my surprise the people behind it, are the very ones we entrust our children’s health to, and the ones who runs this country because the fear of losing billions of dollars. It seems that this reasoning of facts that are hurting our children with the Autism disease has been ignored from other doctors in pass history who have condemn their way of medical practice on our children. The craziest thing here is that the majority of Doctors themselves do not realize that they are doing a great harm to our children, apart from the many Doctors that do. Mr. Gates each year you donate millions of dollars to good courses for our people of a dying world. I am a new author one that is not quite welcome by any publisher without an agent, and one that an agent don’t want to deal with my subject or deal with new authors – a catch 22. The only ways I can go is to self publish my book “THE BLOOD OF AUTISM.” Sir. I know I’m a no-body to you for you to donate the funds I need to publish this book that will save millions of children and families from this horrible disease, – So, Mr. Gates I like you to have my copyright and my book for free, so you can publish my grandsons bloody nightmare of 9 months that made him Autism and the truth behind the 1 in 110 children being diagnose with Autism. I know you care for families. Please Sir, take The Blood of Autism off my hands and save millions of children. God Bless You. I wait your reply.

      Ralph Colon
      Autismhero54@yahoo.com

      February 6, 2011 at 08:21 | Report abuse |
  2. Tim in NY

    Considering that Bill Gates gave billions to charity already, I don't think that the 300k+ would make a dent.

    Plus, these people are discussing the kinds of avenues for research for which future charities might orient their collective efforts.

    Finally, it's likely CNN, in this case, footing Sanjay Gupta's bills - it's about what an actor earns per episode on a modern sit-com, but it's a far more enlightening and productive goal

    Discussing the eradication of polio and malaria are extremely valuable goals.

    January 26, 2011 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. H. Lecter, MD

    I find it interesting that Dr. Gupta is being criticized for attending an event that requires a minimum six-figure enrollment fee, but not President Clinton's presence there. The $100 million income that Clinton has received since leaving office has made him one of the rich people he did his best to put down while he was in office.

    January 26, 2011 at 14:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • niva colon lamar

      Ralph colon is a fake..my son christopher got autism cause his father beat me up in mexico and I accidentallydroped him...RALPH COLON PUT MEBIN A BORDING SCHOOL...AND I WAS TOLD AS WELL THAT I HAVE IT TOO...RALPH COLON ALSO ILLILLEGAL LYBADOPTED MY KIDS....AMERICA THE DOCTORS NEVER GAVE MY SON AUTISM. ...r

      December 1, 2013 at 07:04 | Report abuse |
  4. Laurie Belvin (Florida)

    I wonder why these events overlook the obvious. For example, 60 to 65% of people in the US are deficient in their intake of magnesium. This is on my mind because I am now taking magnesium supplements after being to Hell and back. I have permanent cardiovascular issues that I can live with, but I am recovering from debilitating mental and physical effects. (My immune system is improving, too, so I will have fewer germs to spread.) Why not take care of the simple things in the world that would improve overall health dramatically? If you do not believe me, look up what magnesium deficiency causes. Treatment is cheap, but identifying this as a problem remains difficult. Regardless, we will see little improvement in overall health when the cost, QUALITY, and availability of good health care improves worldwide. The rich cannot avoid the health problems of the poor anywhere.

    February 10, 2011 at 11:00 | Report abuse | Reply
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    June 25, 2011 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Eloisa Pim

    Autism is still a mystery to doctors since they cant exactly pinpoin the main cause of it. .

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    November 29, 2012 at 00:10 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.