Bill Gates said on Thursday that he hopes the global campaign to eradicate polio can reduce paralysis from the disease to zero by 2015 and completely wipe out the disease by 2018.
The software magnate and philosopher said that the world is making major progress against the disease. Gates, the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, spoke prior to a high-level meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Associated Press reports.
“We simply need to get the vaccine drops to all the children, but that means that you’ve got to have good vaccination teams and good logistics,” Gates said, according to Associated Press. “And I’m very impressed at the political support we’re getting and the ways that we’re improving the campaigns in each of those three countries.”
Progress has been made in all three countries where the polio virus has not been stopped – Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The polio virus is present in 11 of Nigeria’s 36 states, compared with 26 of the states in 2008. There have been 17 polio cases in Afghanistan this year compared to 80 last year. Pakistan has seen a two-thirds reduction in cases in the past year, according to Associated Press.
Additional support for the quest against polio has come from a three year $227 million financial package from the Islamic Development bank and a new $75 million contribution from Rotary International over the next three years.
“We must seize the advantage by acting immediately, or risk breaking our pledge to the world’s children,” Wilfrid Wilkinson, the chair of Rotary Foundation’s Trustees, said, according to Associated Press.