Bill Gates gets close to killing off polio

While his former rival Steve Jobs is still able to inspire his followers to queue up to buy a broken phone, Microsoft boss Bill Gates is on his way to ridding the world of polio.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Gates said that the world was close to a historic moment, just as it was before the victory over smallpox in 1977.

Gates said that the evidence is clear and if everyone acts quickly polio could be put in the garbage bin of history by 2018.

In 1988, when an international vaccination program began, polio was rampant in 125 countries, leaving 350,000 children paralysed each year.

Now polio is endemic in only three countries, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and so far this year 145 new cases have been reported. India has been polio-free for the past 18 months.

But Gates is concerned that global commitment is wavering as the number of cases decreases.

He said that Gates said billions more were needed to vaccinate those children leaving in or near polio “sanctuaries” to ensure the disease is destroyed by 2018.

Gates has thrown behind the cause funds from his $35 billion Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as his own considerable lobbying weight. He said he had targeted polio not only because the goal was achievable, but because it would reinforce how effective mass vaccination can be.

One of his problems has been that parts of Pakistan has spread a rumour that the vaccination program is part of a Western plot to sterilise Muslims.

Mr Gates said he has found as much satisfaction in spending his vast fortune through the Foundation as he had building it through the creation of Microsoft.  Certainly it will get him remembered while Jobs is forgotten