Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gates Foundation grants money to fight polio

Rotary International has been raising money for years to battle polio. Today Rotary received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help their cause. The grant is $255 million dollars, one of the largest the foundation has ever made.

The World Health Organization wanted to totally stop Polio in the year 2000. In over 30 years they have spent 6 billion dollars trying to eradicate the disease in the under developed world.

From the Los Angeles Times, Mary Engel details the fight to stop what's left of the Polio.

The number of countries in which the virus is still endemic has dropped since 1988 from more than 125 to four -- Nigeria, India, Pakistan and, to a lesser extent, Afghanistan. These four countries accounted for 1,488 of the 1,625 polio cases reported in 2008.

Fifteen other countries in Africa and Asia that once had eliminated the disease reported a total of 137 cases after the virus was reintroduced by travelers or immigrants.

Dr. Bruce Aylward, director of the WHO polio eradication program, estimated that it would cost $2 billion to stamp out the last traces of the virus in areas where wars, natural disasters, difficult terrain, extreme poverty and political interference have kept it stubbornly entrenched.

Without eradication, the virus will continue to find unprotected children, said Dr. Stephen L. Cochi of the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Should nations eventually tire of funding mass vaccination campaigns, mathematical models have shown that infections would quickly soar to 200,000 a year.

"The very point of eradication is to go that last mile, or the disease comes roaring back," Cochi said.

Polio is caused by a highly infectious virus that invades the nervous system. Most of those infected do not become ill, but one in 200 develop an irreversible paralysis, usually in the legs, that can set in within hours of infection. Of these, 5% to 10% can survive only with a ventilator because their breathing muscles become paralyzed.

1 comment:

mai said...

We need more people like Bill Gates in this country. His genius and compassionate heart is unparalleled.