Boko Haram violence our challenge with polio – Bill Gates

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
Jul 26th, 2014
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<img width="75" height="50" src="http://cdn.pmnewsnigeria.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/000_Par7938370-75×50.jpg" alt="US businessman, inventor and philanthropist Bill Gates, co-chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, delivers a speech after receiving an honourary degree during a ceremony at Addis Ababa University in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on July 24, 2014
AFP”>

US businessman, inventor and philanthropist Bill Gates, co-chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, delivers a speech after receiving an honourary degree during a ceremony at Addis Ababa University in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on July 24, 2014 AFP

US businessman, inventor and philanthropist Bill Gates, co-chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, delivers a speech after receiving an honourary degree during a ceremony at Addis Ababa University in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on July 24, 2014
AFP

United States philanthropist, Bill Gates has described the violence in northern Nigeria perpetuated by Islamist sect Boko Haram, as the major challenge for eradicating polio in the country. Gates said Nigeria could cut the number of polio cases to zero in 2015 and be declared free of the disease by 2018.

Bill Gates told Reuters that the national eradication campaign has however had to contend with an insurgency in the north of the country. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supports the global initiative to wipe out polio, which includes a campaign in Nigeria, one of three nations where the crippling virus is still endemic. The others are Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“We have got all the challenges up in northern Nigeria, the violence from Boko Haram, and the distraction of an upcoming election,” Gates said in a telephone interview, referring to an Islamist rebel group that has in the past targeted vaccination workers, and to Nigeria’s national vote next year,” Gates said in a telephone conversation with Reuters.

“Despite all that, we’ve got by far the lowest numbers of cases ever,” he said. We hope by the end of next year we’d be at zero, adding that, “if there were no more cases for three years after that, Nigeria could be certified clear in 2018.”

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (L) shakes hands with Bill Gates as he hands him an honourary degree during a ceremony at Addis Ababa

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (L) shakes hands with Bill Gates as he hands him an honourary degree during a ceremony at Addis Ababa

The technology billionaire-turned-global philanthropist was speaking last week before a speech on Thursday at Addis Ababa University on development in Africa, mainly in health and agriculture.

“We’ve got a pretty optimistic view of what can happen in Africa in those two areas,” he said before his trip to Ethiopia, a nation stricken by famine 30 years ago but which has doubled farm output in the last eight years.

In health work, one of his most high-profile programs is the fight against malaria, the mosquito-borne disease that infects more than 200 million people a year and kills more than 600,000 people. Nine out of 10 deaths are in Africa.

The campaign includes promoting bed nets, protecting homes with insecticide sprays and using the artemisinin drug in treatment to bring down fatalities, he said.

“On the negative side, we have artemisinin resistance emerging in southeast Asia, and that can take away the very best drug tool we have right now,” he said, adding that there were efforts to contain that problem from spreading.


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