Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg: Our Plan to Eradicate Polio
Monday, March 4, 2013
More than three decades ago, each of us started a technology company based on a big idea—and each company found success based on a culture of innovation and accountability. In recent years, we’ve brought that same approach to our philanthropy and have joined forces on two major global projects: reducing tobacco use, which threatens to kill one billion people by the end of this century; and providing women with access to information and services they need to plan their families, leading to safer births and fewer maternal deaths.
Now, we are teaming up to tackle one of the most ambitious public-health goals ever set: eradicating polio, a disease that has haunted humanity at least since ancient Egypt. One of us (we’re not saying which one) was born at a time when the U.S. president was battling the effects of polio, and both of us are old enough to remember the great fears that polio epidemics generated among parents and children in the 1950s. While the Salk and Sabin vaccines ended the threat of polio in America and much of the developed world during the 1960s, polio continues to paralyze children in a handful of developing countries.
As recently as 1988—the year the world adopted eradication as a goal—polio was circulating in more than 125 countries, and more than 350,000 children were paralyzed annually.
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