Bill and Melinda Gates share the one global problem they'd each fix if they had a magic wand

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Bill and Melinda GatesTed S. Warren/AP

  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation released its second Goalkeepers report on Tuesday, discussing the need for more progress in eliminating poverty worldwide.
  • In an interview with National Geographic Magazine, Bill and Melinda Gates shared the one problem they would fix with a magic wand.
  • Melinda Gates said she would provide contraceptives to the 200 million women who lack access to them.
  • Bill Gates said he would stop malnutrition among children who are not able to fully develop.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation released its second annual Goalkeepers report on Tuesday, warning that decades of progress in eliminating poverty could regress without a greater effort to make food and other vital resources more accessible.

Tuesday's report paints a less optimistic picture than last year's version, when the Gates Foundation highlighted global trends that showed how the world is getting better. Bill and Melinda Gates sat down with National Geographic Magazine's editor in chief, Susan Goldberg, to discuss the new report's emphasis on family planning, nutrition, and education.

Goldberg asked the philanthropists what problem they would fix if they had a magic wand to wave. In response, Melinda Gates said she would make contraceptives available to all women who want them.

"It changes everything for her and her children," Melinda Gates said. "So if I could wave a magic wand, 200 million women who are asking us for contraceptives today would have them."

According to the Gates Foundation's report, the percentage of women of reproductive age who have their family planning needs met with modern contraception has risen from 68% to 76% since 1990. But the number lags behind in the 69 poorest countries, increasing from 51% to 64% in the same time period.

Bill Gates, meanwhile, said he would eliminate malnutrition, as more than 50% of children in Africa do not fully develop mentally or physically due to infectious diseases and a lack of food and infectious.

"I'm super excited that by the end of the decade we expect to have cheap interventions so those kids will fully develop," Bill Gates said. "That means all the investments you make in their education, wanting to benefit from their productivity, will work far better. So if there was just one thing, it's the intervention to stop malnutrition."

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