The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledges $1.2 billion to eradicate polio

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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said Sunday it will commit $1.2 billion to support efforts to eliminate all forms of polio worldwide.

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Polio is a highly infectious disease, spread mainly through fecal contamination, that is used to kill and paralyze thousands of children each year. Although there is no known cure, three injections of the vaccine provide almost 100% immunity.

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Governments and foundations are working to end polio in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the last two countries where the virus continues to circulate.

“The final steps to eradication are the most difficult. But our foundation remains committed to a polio-free future, and we’re optimistic that we’ll see it soon,” said Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is run by Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates and his ex-wife Melinda French. Gates.

Last month, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Peru were at very high risk of reintroduction of polio. New York state is ramping up efforts to vaccinate residents after the virus was found in sewage samples. Cases have also been found in London and Jerusalem.

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In March, a senior World Health Organization official said the world was at a “dangerous moment” in the fight against diseases such as polio, following an outbreak in Malawi.

The announcement came ahead of a key moment of pledge to be co-hosted by Germany and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) on 18 October. The Gates Foundation is part of GPEI, a major project between governments and international organizations. The foundation has contributed nearly $5 billion to GPEI.

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