Bill Gates’ obsession with polio is being criticised

Why? Because he has decided that he will succeed no matter what? Because the virus has become his personal armageddon? The only real point his critics have is that perhaps some part of the donation should be made to pinstitute fresh research into the virus and its mutations. Why doesn’t it die like smallpox did? The oral drops have made a huge difference. But now the vaccine makers say that you must add the injection to the drops to ‘fully’ eradicate polio. The injections are hugely expensive. Government in India does not have the funds to include the injection in the national immunization program. There are so many candidates waiting in the wings to enter this program. How should these be prioritised? It took the government over 15 years to include hepatitis B in its national immunization program for children. Cost played a role in this decision as well till Indian companies were able to wrest control from MNCs and bring down this cost. Perhaps the point both sides are missing is that polio control and eradication could require not just immunization but publc health improvement, sanitation for example. So unless this rides in tandem polio recurrence is a given in some form or other. Add in the inherent nature of a virus: mutation and we have a far more complex problem. Bill Gates is a man committed to a course. He has a vision and gaol and it is hardly fair to go after him with categorial requests and unfair criticism. No one who does as much as he does in so many health areas should be actively criticised.

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