Bill Gates meets Ramadoss, officials for polio eradication

November 4th, 2008 - 9:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Anbumani RamadossNew Delhi, Nov 4 (IANS) Microsoft founder Bill Gates Tuesday met Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss and members of the Planning Commission here, and discussed several major steps taken by the country to eradicate polio, a disease that India is fighting for years.Gates, the co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation founded by him and his wife, attended a roundtable meeting at the health ministry for over half an hour.

According to the ministry, Gates was apprised of the strides made in key areas of polio, National Rural Health Mission, AIDS Control and anti-tobacco efforts.

In the roundtable meeting, new initiatives taken by the government for complete eradication of polio from the country were discussed.

“Describing the polio programme of the nation as a biggest health programme anywhere in the world, which covers about 172 million children in one round, the health minister said that the initiative has consistently accounted for more government funds in the annual budget than any other communicable disease programme,” a ministry statement said.

The discussion also focused on high-risk regions including Bihar and Uttar Pradesh
and intensive efforts needed to deal with the situation.

The statement said Gates congratulated the ministry for the work done in partnership with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (including WHO, Unicef and Rotary India).

He expressed confidence that with additional tools to enhance current efforts, polio can be successfully eradicated in India.

Besides, Bill Gates, his father William Gates, and several foundation functionaries met Ramadoss and senior officers of the ministry and Planning Commission.

The closed-door meeting, where media was not allowed beyond the initial photo opportunity, discussed several pointers related to combating the deadly P1 strain of the disease that leaves children paralysed.

India is one of the four countries grappling to control the disease that affects children below the age of five. Till Oct 31, the country has reported 499 cases of polio, accounting for 35 percent of the cases reported worldwide.

Last year, the country reported 874 cases, over 90 percent of them from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

As of October 2008, the Gates Foundation has committed approximately $9.9 billion in grants for global health, and many of these grants support work in India.

The foundation has so far committed more than $400 million worldwide to support polio eradication efforts. In November last year, the foundation donated $100 million to Rotary India to fight polio over three years.

Gates is likely to launch a major initiative Wednesday for polio eradication.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Health Science |