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Gates funds for polio drive

4th December 2007

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has granted US$100 million to support a global drive to stamp out polio around the world.

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The funds were given to the Rotary International Foundation to support the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, and will be spent on vaccination campaigns, research projects and monitoring activities over the next year.

A further US$100 million will also be needed over the next three years, the Association said.

The initiative's leaders said they would now be in a position to boost funding for polio research by US$25 million over the next two years.

Currently, the polio initiative supports more than 40 polio research projects trying to find better vaccines against the virus in China, Egypt, South America and the United States, among other countries.

Launched in 1988 as a partnership between Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the UN Children's Fund and the World Health Organisation (WHO), the initiative has achieved a drop of 99% in new polio cases.

But the disease still remains endemic in Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan, so follow through is crucial to ensure no re-emergence of the disease.

Robert Scott, chair of the the Rotary Foundation, said polio could emerge anywhere in the world if the initiative let its guard down at this important time.

WHO director general Margaret Chan said the new grant was "great news" for polio eradication and for public health, but warned that achieving a polio-free world was still a great challenge.

Bill Gates, the head of Microsoft and sponsor of the Gates foundation, said he believed eradicating polio was an achievable goal, but added that the key was for all members of society to work together to accomplish it.

Rotary International is a charity that attracts volunteers from all over the world, and has been committed to eradicating polio since 1985.

 

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Article Information

Title: Gates funds for polio drive
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 4969
Date Added: 4th Dec 2007

Sources

SciDev.Net

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