Today marks a milestone in the fight against polio as India celebrates one year since the last recorded case of new polio infection in that country.
This success is the result of decades of work by Rotary International, and tens of millions of dollars donated to the cause by Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made the eradication of polio one of their cornerstone goals to change the world, in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, WHO and UNICEF.
“This is a major milestone in the global fight against polio,” said Bill Gates in a statement. “Children in India are now protected against this debilitating, but preventable disease, bringing us one step closer to saving and improving the lives of all children.”
Rotary club members worldwide have contributed more than $1 billion and countless volunteer hours to its polio eradication effort over the last 23 years. Since then, great progress has been made with the incidence of polio infection plunging from about 350,000 cases in 1988 to fewer than 1,000 cases in 2010.
Gates called on all nations to invest the funds needed to achieve this goal for the three other countries where we still see children suffering from the crippling disease, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.
“India’s story illustrates the possibility of tremendous progress even in the face of difficult economic times, a challenging environment and competing development needs.”