Gates Foundation pledges $1.2bn to eradicate polio

Gates Foundation pledges $1.2bn to eradicate polio
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Sunday pledged to invest $1.2 billion towards wiping out polio, as health experts from around the world gathered for a summit in Berlin. "Polio eradication is within reach but as far as we have come, the disease remains a threat," said Bill Gates, co-chair of the foundation.

The donation will be managed by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a public-private partnership led by governments that aims to end the disease by 2026. Polio is a highly contagious illness caused by a virus that enters the central nervous system and damages cells in the spinal cord and brain.

The disease can be fatal, and those who survive are often left paralysed or with atrophied and twisted limbs.

Polio most often affects children under the age of 5 but can hit anyone who is not vaccinated. Since its launch in 1988, the initiative has helped to reduce polio cases by more than 99 per cent worldwide and prevented more than 20 million cases of paralysis, the foundation said.

Polio in Britain through the years - in pictures Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries where the wild poliovirus remains endemic, although Malawi and Mozambique also detected imported wild polio cases this year.

"Despite this historic progress, interruptions in routine immunisation, vaccine misinformation, political unrest and the tragic floods in Pakistan in 2022 have underscored the urgent need to finish the job against polio," the foundation said.
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