The Gates Foundation pledges $1.2 billion to eradicate polio worldwide

BERLIN (AP) — The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced it would commit $1.2 billion to the effort to end polio worldwide.

The money will be used to help implement the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s strategy through 2026. The initiative is trying to end the polio virus in Pakistan and Afghanistan, both last endemic countries, the foundation said in a statement on Sunday.

The money will also be used to stop outbreaks of new variants of the virus. The announcement was made on Sunday at the World Health Summit in Berlin.

The foundation says in a statement posted on its website that it has contributed nearly $5 billion to the polio eradication initiative. The initiative attempts to integrate polio campaigns into broader health services, while scaling up the use of the new type 2 oral polio vaccine.

The group also works to strengthen national health systems so countries are better prepared for future health threats, the statement said.

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“The last steps towards eradication are by far the most difficult. But our foundation remains dedicated to a polio-free future, and we’re optimistic we’ll see it soon,” said foundation CEO Mark Suzman.

The eradication initiative is a public-private partnership led by a group of national governments that includes the Gates Foundation, Rotary International, the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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