24 Feb No time to stop the fight against polio
Ciro de Quadros, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Since the launch of Bill Gates’ annual letter in January, discussion has reopened an old debate among experts about whether the final push to eradicate polio once and for all is possible, or even worth the effort.
Some believe that the effort to fight polio should be “downsized” to a control program – one that simply aims to keep the disease at bay by limiting its reach. But as doctors and scientists who worked together to eradicate polio in the Americas, we know that the global eradication of polio is imminently achievable – and that giving up now, with ninety-nine percent of the disease eliminated, would be nothing short of a tragedy.
To many, the cost of eradicating polio by 2013 – which experts put at $2 billion – sounds prohibitive, particularly in financially uncertain times. Even after generous contributions from global donors, estimates indicate there remains a $720 million funding gap to get the job done.