Marie McGrory/NPR

Why Bill Gates Thinks Ending Polio Is Worth It

Michaeleen Doucleff Polio Plus

Some critics say that ending polio has become Bill Gates’ “white whale.” Why not just settle for the huge drop in polio cases that we’ve seen over the past decade and then spend money on other things that kill so many more kids, like diarrhea and malnutrition? “Polio is special,” Gates tells NPR’s Robert Siegel on All Things Considered. “Once you get it done, you save $2 billion a year that will be applied to those other activities. There’s no better deal economically to getting to zero.” And Gates is putting his money — and his effort — where his passion is. “Polio alone, for the last year, has been the majority of my time because we were having to really decide: Do we double down? Do we do this right?” he says. In the end, he and his foundation calculated that to do it right and wipe out polio worldwide, it would cost about $5.5 billion over six years. He’s already gotten pledges for $4 billion, including $1.8 billion from his foundation, which also supports NPR. To get the rest, Gates has been out fundraising. He hopes the U.S. government will beef up its donation to $200 million each year. Throughout the polio campaign, it has been chipping in about $150 million annually. Gates was quick to give his fellow philanthropists and foundations credit for the success with polio, especially Rotary International. “From the beginning, Rotary has been key to this,” he says. “We wouldn’t be anywhere near to where we are without Rotary.” …

General Polio Headlines – Week Ending 17 Oct. 2012

Mark Pearce Announcements, Polio Plus

Wild Poliovirus Weekly Update – World Health Organization Week Ending 17 October 2012 Total number of cases in 2011 YTD: 467 Total number of cases in 2012 YTD” 171 (includes 5 in non-endemic countries) General Polio Headlines – Week Ending 17 October 2012 World Polio Day is October 24. This is the first year that India has been excluded from the list of countries where polio is endemic. In the past year, since World Polio Day 2011, there have been 171 new cases of polio as opposed to 467 a year ago. Endemic Country Headlines – Week Ending 17 October 2012 Afghanistan: Four new cases – total for 2012 is 25. “National Immunization Days were held during 14-16 October. The launch of this campaign coincided with Global Handwashing day. Polio information was distributed to children at this time.” Nigeria: Four new cases – total for 2012 is 97. “A second-round immunization campaign, in response to the recent Taraba WPV4 case, is planned for 20-23 October.” Pakistan One new case – total for 2012 is 44. “In response to recent cases, mop-opus were conducted last week in key areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Punjab, targeting more than a milliaon children under the age of five years.”