Isn't this encouraging, a man who made so much money is now sharing his fortunes?

Bill Gates urges renewed polio effort
Posted: 01 February 2011

Child in India receives anti-polio vaccination drops
NEW YORK: Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist Bill Gates has called for a renewed global effort to wipe out polio, warning that a resurgence of the disease could cripple and kill thousands.

"Eradicating polio is not something we can hesitate over now and say we'll get it done later," Gates told a packed room at the New York house where Franklin Roosevelt recovered after being stricken with polio at age 39, before he ran for president.

"If we stop the intense pressure we have put on polio, the virus will spread again," Gates told the audience which included famed violinist Yitzhak Perlman, who contracted polio at age four, Roosevelt's grandson Jim and grandchildren of Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin, who invented vaccines against the disease decades ago.

Gates pleaded for a "renaissance" of awareness and of funding to fight polio on the day the annual letter of the philanthropic foundation he set up with his wife, Melinda, was released.

This year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's letter focuses on what the software billionaire called a "terrible disease that kills many and paralyzes others."

Polio killed 350,000 children worldwide in 1988, the year a global effort was kicked off to try to make the disease only the second after smallpox to be eradicated.

"Since then, vaccination coverage has increased significantly and the number of cases has gone down by 99 percent," Gates said. "That's incredible progress, but the last one percent remains a true danger."

The Microsoft founder said the dangers of polio had slipped from the forefront of the minds of people in the developed world, where the illness was eradicated decades ago.

Young Americans are unaware that polio killed or paralyzed 24,000 people as recently as 1952 in the United States, and have never seen "grim hospital wards full of children in iron lungs that maintained their breathing," Gates said in his letter.

Not only is waning awareness in the developed world of the severity of polio threatening to derail efforts to end it, but the global economic crisis has seen donor nations cut aid budgets as they rein in spending.

Two billion dollars are needed over the next two years to eradicate polio, and "there's a $720 million shortfall," Gates said.

Gates said his foundation could fund 15 percent of the effort to wipe out polio, but called for donor nations to follow the lead of Britain and Abu Dhabi and not cut funds for polio eradication.

British Prime Minister David Cameron joined Gates last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos to pledge 130 million dollars to help eradicate the disease.

Days before that, crown prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan also announced a grant to fight polio, which remains endemic in Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan and recently resurfaced in southwest Africa and Tajikistan, after a decade with no cases.

"The majority of cases in 2010 were in countries that had been polio-free until the virus travelled back across borders and caused outbreaks in areas where people had gotten lax about vaccination," Gates said in his letter.

"Polio is kind of like fire. You have to damp it down or it will flare up in places, like it has in Tajikistan or Congo. It's a terrible thing and that is why getting to zero is so important," Gates told the gathering in New York.

Wiping out polio would save the world up to $50 billion over the next 25 years, not to mention the countless children it would spare the pain of paralysis or even death, he said.

"If eradication fails because of a lack of generosity on the part of donor countries, it would be tragic," said the billionaire philanthropist, whose foundation gives about $200 million a year to fight the disease.


Taken from; source article is below:
Bill Gates urges renewed polio effort

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