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Bill Gates on Polio

Posted by: Annie Voy | February 2, 2011 | 7 Comments |

Bill Gates did an interview on NPR’s Talk of the Nation where he discussed his foundation’s efforts to erradicate polio. Click here to listen to the interview or read the transcript.

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Responses -

It is comforting to know that a single person, Bill Gates for example, can have such a large impact on the world. Although he is filthy rich, there is no law that says he is required to donate his money to charity projects. It would be an amazing accomplishment if he were able to eliminate polio from the world. He has donated $200 million dollars each year plus an additional $102 million dollars this year. I would think that with that much money, a cure for polio around the world should easily be attainable.

I will admit that I know nothing about the polio disease. My generation has been vaccinated so it has never been a worry in my mind. I do not understand why a political leader would want the continuation of polio circulating throughout the country. By telling the people that the polio vaccine made women sterile it discouraged people from getting the vaccine which in essential failed in eliminating the disease. It is incredible what Bill Gates is doing and I sure hope that it is a success because Polio is a terrible disease with problems that last a lifetime. This was a neat article to read because of the different callers’ life stories. It really opened my eyes to how disastrous polio was and still is in the world.

I found this article to be quite uplifting, unlike many global issues regarding disease. It is interesting to see a disease which has had such catastrophic consequences in the past, on the verge of extinction. The first thought that came to my mind when seeing the figures that Bill Gates is donating, was not only happiness about the large donation but confusion on how 200 million dollars a year doesn’t create extinction of polio immediately.

When discussing issues such as this from an economic standpoint I think it is critical that we look at the opportunity costs of donations such as this, however I believe to do this we must weigh different diseases on different scales, and this tasks seems implausible, if not unethical. Should Bill Gates be donating all this money here, or should he use it towards an organization such as Kiva, where he could create enough fixed capital for the organization and its workers to become a global legend of goodwill?

I don’t necessarily believe Kiva should receive this money, but it has always popped up in my head when seeing such small loans that people are asking for, and realizing how little effort some U.S. citizens go through to make that money on a daily basis.

I think the biggest goal for Mr. Gates needs to be not only to find ways to get the vaccine to these countries that need it, but also to find ways to make vaccinations in these countries sustainable. The interview stresses that just because a virus is eradicated in a country does not mean a wild form of the virus cannot be acquired. Vaccinations need to become a regular thing for all the citizens of a nation. The Gates Foundation needs to work hard to help local governments in these countries establish regular vaccination programs that are available to all citizens.

As mentioned before, I thought it was amazing how high the numbers were that were being used for polio vaccinations. Even with the huge contribution from the Gates Foundation, it was mentioned in the article that a 700 million shortage of funding the campaign still exists. I thought it was really interesting to see how other governments stepped up to help fund the campaign.

This article also opened my eyes to the severity of polio, especially when the personal stories came up. One in particular was the story of post-polio which was crazy to think that he had lived a normal life, running marathons, etc. and then he got post-polio later on in life. I think this is very important to realize and note.

He is a pretty amazing person. Having had a chance to meet a similiar figure of statuee such as Paul Allen. Really makes me appreciate what these guys do with their money. I know Paul was much more delightful than i ever exspected and i bet Mr. Gates is too. Incredible people who do incredible things, for little or no monetary gain, is what will make our world a better place.

I find it interesting how Neal mentions Bill Gates is fighting traffic to get to the interview. I’m wondering . . . why don’t they just Skype the interview? (Listeners could still ask questions, at the expense of time).

(On a side note, since FDR formed the March of Dimes, the US government changed the design of the dime in 1946 [after FDR’s death in 1945] to honor his time and leadership.)

“f you withdraw the incredible focus on polio, it will spread back, and in poor countries you’ll get something like 100,000 cases a year. So by being very intense these next three or four years and getting the cases down to zero, what you do is you avoid all the future cases.” To me, Bill Gates is investing in the polio vaccines and the world reaps the future rewards.

[This reminds me of another problem in economics: a snowed-in cul-de-sac must be shoveled out. However, one person has volunteered to either shovel the entire cul-de-sac or pay someone to shovel so that the residents can reap the rewards of the investment made by one person.]

This might seem odd, but why haven’t Greg Mortenson and Bill Gates teamed up (since Bill has the funds and the scientists and Greg has traveled in Afghanistan, I don’t see why they shouldn’t partner together)?

The detail that initially people were resistant to the disease because they thought that it caused infertility in women is really striking. It makes me wonder how many misconceptions stop people from getting the treatment that they need. Also, in the article about malaria, the author suggested that as foreign countries come in and try to impose their view of aid and develop should look like, they often are ineffective and aid goes to waste. In this case it sounds like the problem was identified and solved, but it does identify a problem with foreign aid and its effectiveness. Also, it seems like in countries where vaccines are a routine practice, the polio vaccine isn’t always as difficult to implement as was the case in Nigeria.