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Monday
Jan312011

Gates Launches Latest Polio Campaign at FDR Recuperation Site

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- In the Manhattan double townhouse where President Franklin Delano Roosevelt recuperated from polio in the summer of 1921, billionaire Bill Gates on Monday began the latest chapter in his campaign to rout the disease from its last global strongholds.

Gates, co-chair and trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world's largest philanthropy, reiterated his commitment to global elimination of polio at a high-profile event a day after the 129th anniversary of Roosevelt's birth. Gates used the occasion to release his third Annual Letter, a blueprint of his philanthropic goals, at Roosevelt House on New York's Upper East Side, once a wedding present from Sara Roosevelt to her son Franklin and daughter-in-law Eleanor, the current home of the Public Policy Institute at Hunter College.

Half of this year's letter focuses on eliminating vaccine-preventable diseases including polio, and other global health issues.

Worldwide, new cases of the potentially paralyzing and sometimes fatal childhood illness have been cut 99 percent since governments of the United States, Great Britain and India, along with the United Nations Children's Fund, Rotary International and Gates Foundation, launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988. However, the disease remains endemic in Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan and there have been outbreaks in more than a dozen other countries. In 2010, outbreaks in countries that once had vanquished polio sickened hundreds, including 458 in Tajikistan; 93 in the Congo and 323 in Angola. There has been one reported case this year in Pakistan.

Last Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to double the United Kingdom's contribution to fighting polio in the next two years. That would enable 45 million more children to be fully vaccinated, advancing the goal of providing life-saving immunizations to every child who needs them.

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