Bill Gates appeals for polio eradication

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates recently made an appeal to eradicate polio throughout the world.

Though the effort to eliminate the disease has been underway since 1985, Gates only began contributing in 2005, emerging as one of the biggest donors toward the effort, giving more than $1.3 billion, according to the New York Times.

New outbreaks cause setbacks every year, but Gates has been giving increasingly more money to the effort, donating more money than Rotary International has in the last 30 years combined.

Gates' money not only goes towards research, it is also used to pay millions of vaccinators their two to three dollar a day stipends for administering drops to children in the developing world. Gates has also journeyed to remote Indian and Nigerian villages to give the drops himself.

Gates uses his celebrity to press political leaders. Gulf nations have been criticized for giving little for a disease that is now primarily affecting Muslim children. In Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Gates and Crown Prince Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan donated $50 million each toward vaccinating children in Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to the New York Times.

In Davos, Switzerland, Gates and David Cameron, the British prime minister, announced that Britain would double its $30 million pledge.

Cases of polio are down 99 percent, but ridding the world of the last one percent seems increasingly difficult, the New York Times reports. Some experts believe it may not be worth the effort to spend the resources to try to solve an unsolvable problem.

Gates strongly disagrees.

“These cynics should do a real paper that says how many kids they’re really talking about,” Gates said, according to the New York Times. “If you don’t keep up the pressure on polio, you’re accepting 100,000 to 200,000 crippled or dead children a year.”