Bill Gates says battle against polio is close to being won

Although Nigeria has seen a 99 percent drop in reported cases of polio between 2009 and 2010, Microsoft founder Bill Gates recently told that more contributions are needed from the richer nations and global donors.

Gates announced Monday that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation intends to make a further contribution of $150 million to fight polio, in addition to the $750 million he has committed over the past decade. The World Health Organization has a $2.6 billion budget to fight polio until 2012, Gates said.

Gates noted that although fund raising has been difficult lately, he remained optimistic about polio-fighting efforts.

“We are going to the rich world donors at a time when their budgets are tight,” Gates said, reports. “But between what our foundation will do, what the others will do, I feel quite sure that we will be able to fund that fight.”

Dr. Mohammed Pate, director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, said approximately $3 billion has been earmarked for the polio eradication program in Nigeria.

The number of polio cases has dropped in 2010, with only three cases recorded to date – a drop from the 288 cases recorded in 2009.

Immunizations of children rose to 71 percent this year, up from 63 percent in 2009. The figure, however, is still short of the WHO benchmark of 80 percent for Nigeria, Gates told