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Bill Gates In Washington To Promote Polio Eradication Plan, Discuss Other Health-Related Agendas

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was in Washington this week “promoting his plan to combine a 1960s-era oral vaccine with new satellite photography and GPS trackers to eradicate polio finally from the globe,” Politico reports. “Gates appeared with former President Bill Clinton at a public forum Tuesday morning and then went behind closed doors to speak to the Senate Republican luncheon,” the news service writes, noting “there were face-to-face meetings [on Tuesday] with senior members of the Senate and House Appropriations committees important to Gates’s health and agriculture agendas.” According to the news service, Gates is “asking Washington to increase its annual commitment to an international polio fund from $100 million to $150 million. That’s a 50 percent increase — post the March sequester.”

“But the payoff could be huge if polio is wiped out, eliminating the need for costly vaccinations in the future,” Politico adds (Rogers, 5/8). “‘Polio is special,’ Gates tells NPR’s Robert Siegel on ‘All Things Considered,’” NPR’s “Shots” blog writes, adding, “Once you [eradicate polio], you save $2 billion a year that will be applied to those other [health] activities. There’s no better deal economically to getting to zero” cases. The blog continues, “Plus, he says, much of the $5.5 billion spent on polio will go toward building up health care systems in the affected countries” (Doucleff, 5/8). According to Politico, while in Washington, “Gates [also] talked up new farming methods and genetically modified seeds as an answer for hunger in Africa, whose staple crops were neglected in earlier research” (5/8).