New Year’s Goal: Eradicate Polio Worldwide

No one can call Bill Gates an underachiever. So it’s no surprise that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has joined with The Jeffrey Modell Foundation (JMF), a global nonprofit organization that works to increase awareness of genetic immune deficiency diseases, to attempt to eradicate polio worldwide.

Although it might seem an overwhelming task, since 1988 the total number of polio cases have dropped more than 99 percent. A total of 125 countries have completely eliminated the viral disease, which causes paralysis in severe cases.

To completely wipe out polio, JMF and the Gates Foundation are striving to raise awareness among patients and physicians about tools to contain polio.

"Right now, the world has the opportunity to change history and end polio forever. New collaborations like this one are critical to safely reach the goal of polio eradication and maintain a polio-free world," said Jay Wenger, director of the Polio Global Development Program at the Gates Foundation. "The Jeffrey Modell Foundation's work will help ensure that we reach a critical group of doctors and patients in the final push to forever protect children worldwide from polio."

Countries being targeted include Afghanistan, with 31 cases reported this year; Nigeria, with 110 cases reported; Pakistan, with 56 cases; Chad, with five cases; Democratic Republic of the Congo, with 93 cases; and West Africa, with 51 cases.

Global polio stats
Data available from the World Health Organization as of Nov. 29, 2011, for 2011 data and November 27, 2012, for 2012 data.