Bill Gates: Malaria Can Be Eradicated

Deadly diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and HIV that afflict the world's poorest the most can be eradicated, Microsoft founder Bill Gates said, but he worries austerity measures could clip some public funding.

"The money that helps out the poorest overwhelmingly comes from government aid budgets" but it's unclear what kind of priority aid will have in future budgets, Gates told CNBC's "Closing Bell" on Friday from Davos, Switzerland.

The U.S., for instance, gives $6 billion in aid to fight AIDS, and if that were to be cut, it's hard to make up that funding from private philanthropists, Gates said.

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Gates remains a part-time chairman of Microsoft but his full-time gig is with his charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

"Until we treat the health of that poor child as being as important as the health of a rich child, we'll still have work to do," Gates said of his foundation's work on global health. "That gives us decade after decade of needing to make progress."

Gates said malaria deaths have fallen, and while there aren't tools yet available to eradicate the disease, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding drug and vaccine companies that may one-day make eradication possible.

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"Someday (malaria) will become a disease like smallpox, like polio that won't be killing anyone," Gates said.

Gates is also focused on improving access to quality education at a lower cost.

Technology and applying the Internet revolution to more areas plays a big role in this initiative, Gates said. And providing access to lectures and learning materials online is one way to improve access at less cost. "There is a lot of excitement about high-quality online education," he said.

As for Microsoft, the company "has a lot of exciting things going on," Gates said, including Windows 8 and the Surface tablet.

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