News / Africa

Microsoft Founder Says Aid Should Meet Polio Funding Shortfall

FILE photo showing Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, center, in a remote village in eastern India to see the progress of the Indian government's campaign to eradicate polio.
FILE photo showing Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, center, in a remote village in eastern India to see the progress of the Indian government's campaign to eradicate polio.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates says wealthy nations and private sector donors should be able to make up more than $2.6 billion in funding needed to fight polio through 2012.  Gates spoke in Nigeria where he met with officials responsible for polio vaccinations.

The World Health Organization is facing a budget shortfall in its 2010 through 2012 campaign to eradicate polio.

But even as wealthy economies continue to recover from the global financial crisis, computer software developer Bill Gates believes the $2.6 billion that is needed can be raised.

"We are going to the rich world donors at a time when their budgets are tight," Gates said. "But between what our foundation will do, what the other donors will do, I feel quite sure that we will be able to fund this fight even though that is not an easy thing.  Money is very tight."

The billionaire philanthropist spoke to reporters in Abuja where he met with officials responsible for Nigeria's anti-polio campaign.  On his last visit in February 2009, he says it looked like Nigeria might make the least progress of the four countries most at risk, which include India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

"In fact, as we sit here about 16 months since that visit, we can say that things have gone very well," Gates said. "And although some of that is good luck, and we need to do even better, a lot of it is because there is better coverage of the vaccine.  When we talk about polio, the key is to have all the kids, or at least 90 percent, get three or more doses of the vaccine."

Nigeria has recorded its lowest level of polio infections this year, with just three cases.  Last year there were 228.  Immunization has risen from less than two-thirds of children last year to more than 70 percent this year.   

There is still polio in neighboring Niger and Chad, and Gates says there are efforts underway in those countries to fight the disease as well.  But he says that makes it even more important to have high-vaccine rates in Nigeria to check polio's spread.

"As we get vaccine coverage up diseases like measles, where we have a very good vaccine, or some like diarrhoeal disease or respiratory [disease] where there are some new vaccines that in the years ahead will be added, the number of lives that can be saved is really huge.  If you go further out, maybe five years with luck, we will be able to add a malaria vaccine," Gates said.

Gates was joined by Dr. Mohammed Ali Pate, who heads Nigeria's primary health care agency.  

"We can do wonders if we make up our minds and work hard towards it.  But the job is not done," Pate said. "There are still remaining gaps, and there are still challenges.  

The Microsoft founder met with some of Nigeria's top business leaders during his visit and says they have committed to sharing their wealth, much as he has done since he and his wife established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  

"I feel very lucky that the work I did at Microsoft generated so much wealth," Gates said. "And then there is the question of what to do with that wealth.  I decided that passing that to my children would not be a great thing for them or for society.  There would be nothing good about that.  And so then the challenge I had was, 'OK, where should it go to have the most impact on society?'"

In addition to polio and malaria prevention, the Gates Foundation is also investing in maternal and child health with $1.5 billion of aid for the next five years to support family planning, health, and nutrition programs in developing countries.

You May Like

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid