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Bill Gates: Will Google's Project Loon stop people dying from malaria?

Apparently introducing the Internet to under served areas isn't enough do-gooding for philanthropist Bill Gates.

The Microsoft founder and multi-billionaire told Bloomberg in a recent interview that Google's new Project Loon effort, which sends balloons into the air over various parts of the globe that have limited Internet access, just isn't cutting it.

"When you're dying of malaria, I suppose you'll look up and see that balloon, and I'm not sure how it'll help you. When a kid gets diarrhoea, no, there's no website that relieves that," he said.

But Gates can appreciate the power of technology in developing countries, can't he?

"Certainly I'm a huge believer in the digital revolution," he told Bloomberg. "And connecting up primary health care centres, connecting up schools, those are good things. But no, those are not, for the really low-income countries, unless you directly say we're going to do something about malaria."

His response focused mostly on malaria — just one of the diseases the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is working to eradicate. As documented on the foundation's website, malaria occurs in nearly 100 countries and affects more than 200 million people globally.

Google is doing its part to help the underserved, though. Unveiled in June, Project Loon (see video, top) kicked off with a pilot in the Canterbury area of New Zealand, with 30 balloons in the air and 50 testers on the ground. With balloon hot spots flying overhead, the idea is that people can connect to the web without having to build a complex physical infrastructure on the ground.

The system could potentially help with communications in the aftermath of a natural disaster, Google says.

Still, Gates isn't convinced.

"Google started out saying they were going to do a broad set of things. They hired Larry Brilliant, and they got fantastic publicity. And then they shut it all down. Now they're just doing their core thing. Fine. But the actors who just do their core thing are not going to uplift the poor," he said.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.