Bill Gates: Polio will be eradicated this year, the endgame is near…
The Bill and Linda Gates Foundation decided to put a lot of money towards a few goals. One of them was to eradicate polio which was paralyzing over 300,000 children every year.
- In 1988 — when wild poliovirus was in more than 125 countries, paralyzing 350,000 people every year — the World Health Assembly launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to help eliminate the disease through a mass immunization campaign.
- In 2007 the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joined other major health organizations already committed to the GPEI, contributing nearly $3 billion toward eradicating polio by 2019.
- Today 12 cases of poliovirus exist in two countries, and the Gates Foundation is optimistic polio could be completely wiped out this year.
Although Dr. Jonas Salk is credited with developing the first safe and effective oral polio vaccine in 1955, there were still about 350,000 cases of polio worldwide 30 years later. Since the World Health Assembly’s 1988 launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the number of cases has been reduced by 99.9 percent, saving more than 13 million children from paralysis. Economic modeling has found that the eradication of polio would save at least $40 billion to $50 billion between 1988 and 2035, mostly in low-income countries.
Bill Gates is hopeful the disease will become the second disease after smallpox to disappear for good. “Progress in fighting polio might be one of the world’s best-kept secrets in global health,” he acknowledged in the foundation’s 2017 annual letter. But soon, he hopes, it will be a secret no more.
What began 62 years ago in Dr. Salk’s University of Pittsburgh laboratory and later implemented by Bill Gates and others has been one of the great medical achievements of our time. Coincidentally, Jonas Salk and Bill Gates have something more in common: Both share the same birth date — October 28.
Ray Sipherd CNBC.com