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Editorial, Opinion Piece Address Efforts To Eradicate Polio

The Independent recently published an editorial and opinion piece discussing the global effort to eradicate polio. The following are summaries of the articles.

  • Editorial: “Thanks to [polio] eradication efforts over the past 25 years, the total of cases worldwide has been reduced by 99 percent, to just 222 last year,” the Independent writes, adding, “But the work is not cheap — $9 billion has been spent so far — with an estimated $5.5b billion required to root out the last couple of hundred cases, equivalent to $25 million for each case.” The editorial continues, “Even if the Global Polio Eradication Initiative … succeeds in banishing the virus completely — and that is by no means certain — more lives might have been saved by, for example, programs to improve sewage systems,” adding, “That might be a practical suggestion, but it would be churlish. Banishing polio will protect future generations for all time, and it is to the great credit of Bill Gates that he is committing some of his fortune to the task” (3/2).
  • Bill Gates: “If we don’t keep investing [in polio vaccination and eradication efforts], cases will shoot back up to the tens of thousands annually in dozens of countries,” Gates, chair of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes. “Second, success will generate lessons that benefit all of global health,” including “building systems, developing technology, and training workers,” he notes. “If the world delivers [at the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi and beyond], then we will eradicate polio within six years. It will be another entry in a long list of improvements to the human condition,” Gates writes. The U.K. has been a “generous dono[r],” helping to lower child mortality and poverty rates over the past few decades, he notes, concluding, “Adding the end of polio to the list will be one of the great moral and practical achievements of our age” (3/1).