Washington: Microsoft founder Bill Gates has said polio could be eradicated throughout the world by 2018.
In a passionate speech, at the annual Richard Dimbleby Lecture, on the need to reduce child mortality, he set out his mission to rid the world of polio and praised the British media for its role in highlighting issues of global poverty.
He said that ‘the fight to eradicate polio is a proving ground, a test’ adding that ‘its outcome will reveal what human beings are capable of, and suggest how ambitious we can be about our future.’
According to the Independent, as he pledged the commitment of his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to take on the acutely infectious virus, he acknowledged that polio now exists in only three countries, which included Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.
Gates said he had met with the presidents of the three countries where polio remains in order to encourage them to support vaccination programmes in hard to reach communities.
He talked of problems in northern Nigeria, where false rumours have suggested that the polio vaccination causes infertility, and in Pakistan, where masked militants last month murdered nine vaccinators, including a 17-year-old girl.
According to the report, speaking at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in London, Gates, 57, spoke of his excitement at the potential of science to combat disease.
He said his ‘all-time favourite’ statistic was a chart showing that the annual number of children dying under the age of five had fallen from more than 20 million to 6.9 million in the space of his lifetime, the report added.