Bill Gates said on Wednesday that “with any luck” polio will be eradicated by 2017 in the last two countries where it remains active, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Microsoft founder announced a $50 million donation from Qatar to “The Lives and Livelihood Fund”, a partnership fund between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Islamic Development Bank, which together have been working to try to eradicate diseases, including polio, since 2012.
“There’s very few cases left, just two countries at this point, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and with any luck either this year or next year we will have the last cases of those,” Gates said.
Pakistan has already made it an official target to rid the country of polio – an infectious viral disease resulting in muscle damage – in 2016 though there have already been eight recorded cases so far this year. Although these are the two countries where the disease remains endemic, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative says eight countries are “vulnerable” to the virus, including Cameroon, South Sudan and Syria.
The billionaire had, earlier this year, announced the launch of a $4 billion fund to help eradicate malaria.
The donation received in Doha will go towards a fund seeking to provide affordable financing for the 30 least-wealthy countries among IDB members. It aims to ease the burden for some of the world’s poorest people through grants and Sharia-compliant loans. “This is a great milestone for helping the poorest,” he said. In total, the fund is trying to raise $2.5 billion.
Date: 14th April, 2016.