Polio eradication drive funded23rd January 2009
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, has joined the UK and Germany in their effort to eradicate polio worldwide.
Recent worldwide efforts have limited the disease to just over 1,600 cases annually, though there are fears that it could start spreading again.
It persists in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. Up until now, £435 million has been donated.
But experts believe that an additional £250 million is needed in order to eradicate the disease.
Members of Rotary International have pledged that they will raise £70 million over the next three years.
Polio is a virus that invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis within hours, sometimes killing the sufferer.
Survivors often lose the use of limbs and have difficulty finding work.
Two years ago, researchers found that eliminating polio would be more cost effective than containing it.
They reasoned that a small decrease in the amount of polio vaccinations could lead to a large outbreak of the disease.
Bill Gates pledged £185 million to the effort, while the UK is contributing £100 million.
The last recorded case of an infection in the UK was more than 20 years ago, and the last imported case was in 1993.
Gates warned that the disease would continue to be a difficult matter for years to come.
In a speech to Rotary International Gates said that the harsh mathematics of polio makes it clear that the world cannot maintain a level of 1,000 to 2,000 cases a year.
He said that either the world should eradicate polio or return to the days of tens of thousands of cases annually, and that in some places children need as many as ten doses because they were already infected with so many other viruses.
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Title: Polio eradication drive funded
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 9904
Date Added: 23rd Jan 2009