Bill Gates to launch major polio initiative in India Wednesday

November 3rd, 2008 - 6:11 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 3 (IANS) Microsoft founder Bill Gates will launch a major initiative for India’s public healthcare here Wednesday with a special focus on polio eradication, said officials at his philanthropic foundation.Gates will launch the initiative under the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - founded by him and his wife - which believes that while polio cannot be cured at present, it can be prevented by immunising children at the right age.

“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 said in a background note ahead of Gates’ visit.

For polio alone, the foundation has so far committed more than $400 million worldwide to support polio eradication efforts and India, among the four countries where the disease is still endemic, is among its recipients.

The other initiatives of the foundation include “Avahan”, where $258 million has so far been committed in the first phase of the project towards India’s AIDS-control initiatives.

This apart, $93 million has been set aside for the country’s immunisation programme and $66 million for introducing hepatitis B vaccine in 15 cities and 33 districts.

Based in Seattle, the foundation is led by chief executive Jeff Raikes. William H. Gates Sr. and Bill and Melinda Gates are its co-chairs, while long-term associate Warren Buffett is a trustee and another major contributor.

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