Bill Gates visiting India on polio eradication mission (Lead)November 3rd, 2008 - 9:09 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Nov 3 (IANS) Microsoft founder Bill Gates will meet Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss Wednesday and launch a major initiative for India’s public healthcare with a special focus on eradicating polio, a disease that the country is combatting for years.According to the health ministry, Gates, the co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation founded by him and his wife, will meet Ramadoss and discuss the progress the country has made in polio eradication.
Other than attending a roundtable meeting, Gates is likely to meet with World Health Organisation (WHO) officials and senior Rotarians to take stock of the situation in India.
India is one of the few 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, a whopping 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 said in a background note ahead of Gates’ visit.
The foundation has so far committed more than $400 million worldwide to support polio eradication efforts with India among its recipients.
In November last year, the foundation donated $100 million to Rotary India to fight polio over three years.
“It was a matching grant, which means Rotary will also raise a same amount to fight the disease in India during the same period,” an official of the Rotary India told IANS.
The other initiatives of the foundation include ‘Avahan’, in which $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.