Bill Gates Fires Back at Polio Skeptics

Bill Gates responds to critics who say that, instead of trying to wipe out polio, his philanthropic endeavors should focus on addressing other development challenges.

“These cynics should do a real paper that says how many kids they’re really talking about,” he said in an interview with The New York Times. “If you don’t keep up the pressure on polio, you’re accepting 100,000 to 200,000 crippled or dead children a year.”

Dr. Donald A. Henderson, a former World Health Organization officer, stressed that polio cannot be eradicated. Richard Horton, editor of British medical journal The Lancet, also said via Twitter that “Bill Gates’ obsession with polio is distorting priorities in other critical BMGF (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) areas. Global health does not depend on polio eradication.” 

Gates emphasized the need to wipe out polio in his annual letter published Jan. 31 and his foundation has pledged an additional USD102 million to eradicate the disease. Critics, on the other hand, want to redirect some USD1 billion in polio vaccine funding to measures against pneumonia, diarrhea, measles, meningitis and malaria.

>> More Donor Support Pours into Global Polio Fight 

“And think of all the money that would be saved,” Gates said sarcastically. “It’d be like 5 percent of the dog food market in the United States.” 

About the author

  • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.