29 January 2013

Bill Gates' crusade against polio

Later this month, Gates will deliver the BBC’s Dimbleby Lecture, taking as his theme the value of the young human being. Every child, he will say, has the right to a healthy and productive life, and he will explain how technology and innovation can help towards the attainment of that still-distant goal. Gates has put his money where his mouth is. He and his wife Melinda have so far given away $28 billion via their charitable foundation, more than $8  billion of it to improve global health...

“We’re focused on the help of the poorest in the world, which really drives you into vaccination. You can actually take a disease and get rid of it altogether, like we are doing with polio.”  This has been done only once before in humans, with the eradication of smallpox in the 1970s.  “Polio’s pretty special because once you get an eradication you no longer have to spend money on it; it’s just there as a gift for the rest of time.”..

For Gates, though, polio is a totem. The abolition of the disease will be a headline-grabber, spurring countries on to greater efforts. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will spend $1.8 billion in the next six years to accomplish that goal, almost a third of the global effort.

“All you need is over 90 per cent of children to have the vaccine drop three times and the disease stops spreading. The number of cases eventually goes to zero. When we started, we had over 400,000 children a year being paralysed and we are now down to under 1,000 cases a year. The great thing about finishing polio is that we’ll have resources to get going on malaria and measles.”

“It doesn’t relate to any particular religion; it’s about human dignity and equality,” he says. “The golden rule that all lives have equal value and we should treat people as we would like to be treated.”  
I'm a polio survivor, and I applaud his efforts.  Also, I discovered last week that one of my former students is a program director at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

9 comments:

  1. Too bad the human scum in North Africa, Pakistan, and Afganistan are bringing Polio back. By scaring off health care workers, banning the immunization of children, banning education, and trying to implement a twisted vision of Islamic perfection, they have created the perfect conditions for a Polio epidemic.

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/417763/govt-attributes-polio-resurgence-to-religious-mindsets/

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  2. Ehhh, the USA used or posed as these health workers in an effort to collect intel while chasing Bin Laden. Other health workers and educators were caught pimping their own belief system after they were warned not to.
    So yeah, if 'friendlies' are no longer trusted to be neutral, especially while a given land is at the same time being forcefully occupied, I have a hard time blaming the villagers.

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    Replies
    1. Not to disagree about the CIA's involvement, but the recent attacks in Pakistan have been on LOCAL health care workers, not foreigners. And I have not heard of any problems in Afghanistan, just over in Pakistan, where foreign military forces are not located.

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  3. One could question whether the overall progress of mankind has been stifled more by the patents held by Microsoft and their like.
    Still, I have always respected Mr. Gates' father and I am glad Bill has assumed much of his character.

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  4. What do you think about this? Truth or unfounded rumor?
    http://therefusers.com/refusers-newsroom/rise-in-paralysis-cases-after-polio-vaccine-deccan-chronicle/#.UQhfoo5K4qY

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    Replies
    1. I had not seen that, Naomi. The link you provide is really heavy with vitriol and polemic, but that doesn't mean there might not be some underlying truth.

      I tried to search some information tonight. Found this in the Times of India -

      http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-05-04/kanpur/31572249_1_acute-flaccid-paralysis-polio-virus-polio-case

      and this in a Digital Journal -

      http://digitaljournal.com/article/323371

      I didn't find anything at Snopes.

      The simplest explanation might be a reporting phenomenon where large surveys looking for polio find cases of non-polio acute flaccid paralysis that would otherwise (and in previous years) have been unrecognized. But the Digital Journal article claims there is a location-based correlation with vaccine administration.

      So I don't know. I'll keep my ears (eyes) open.

      Tx.

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  5. The comments following that article are terrifying. People seem to be wallowing with glee in base ignorance and absurd conspiracy theories.

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  6. Actually the med. they use is known to cause the polio itself according to wiki, but its low possibility, oh and its forbidden to use in US that vaccine.

    and add the TED talk of Bill Gates about reducing the population with vaccines.. boom :)

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  7. I also searched the internet looking for sources that attempted to be rational, and there does seem to be a basis for further scrutiny. I'm trying to keep an open mind.

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