Bill Gates Takes On Fight Against Polio
In recent years the world has come close to eradicating the poliovirus and now with the backing of multibillionaire Bill Gates, that eventuality could become a reality very soon.
In 2012 there were just 205 cases of naturally occurring poliovirus compared to 650 cases in 2011 and a huge 350,000 cases less than a quarter of a century ago. The three countries in the world most heavily affected by the disease are Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
Last week billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates delivered the annual BBC Richard Dimbleby Lecture during which he spelled out his commitment to ridding the world of polio. Through the Gates Foundation, Bill and his wife Melinda have already given away nearly $30 billion of their fortune and there are tens of billions more in the pipeline. Gates is passionate about fighting the world’s most harmful and infectious diseases.
In his lecture Gates likened the pace of innovation in computers with the fight against polio. He said:
“In the late 1970s we had a dream of giving everybody access to computer technology - a vision of a computer on every desktop. Now there is a computer in every pocket.
“The pace of innovation keeps getting faster. The same is true of polio.
“It was first recognised at least 4,000 years ago, but it was just 200 years ago we figured out it's contagious - just 100 years ago we learned it's a virus. Just 50 years ago we developed the vaccine to prevent it.
“Just 25 years ago we resolved to eradicate it. And so on.”
However Gates also acknowledged that the final push against polio is proving extremely difficult, “I can say without reservation that the last mile is not only the hardest mile; it's also much harder than I expected.”
Polio is a hard virus to combat owing to its portability. It can spread quickly from one person to another and in exceptionally rare instances can be caught from the polio vaccine itself. Such huge steps towards eradicating the disease have been made that the world is at a ‘now or never’ moment; the disease will either be eradicated in the next few years or there are fears that it could begin to re-emerge in a number of countries which have already eliminated the virus.
Bill Gates recognises what is at stake for global health, “Polio eradication is a proving ground, a test. It will reveal what human beings are capable of, and suggest how ambitious we can be about our future.”
Dubai's new smart neuro spinal hospital: need to know
We take a look at Dubai's new smart hospital.
What: The Neuro Spinal Hospital and Radiosurgery Centre is a new hospital featuring state-of-the-art technology for spinal, neurosurgical, neurological, orthopaedic, radiosurgery and cancer treatments. The 700 million AED hospital, (equivalent to £138 million), has 114 beds, smart patient rooms, and green spaces for patient rehabilitation, and is four times the capacity of its former premises in Jumeirah. It is also the UAE’s first hospital to have surgical robots.
Where: The hospital is located in the Dubai Science Park. Founded in 2005, Dubai Science Park is home to more than 350 companies from multinational corporations in life sciences, biotechnology and research; over 4,000 people work here each day.
Who: The UAE's Neuro Spinal Hospital and Radiosurgery Centre was first established in Jumeirah in 2002 by Dr. Abdul Karim Msaddi, as the first as the first "super-specialty" neuroscience hospital.
Why: With advanced diagnosis and robotics, the hospital will provide care across neuroscience, spine, orthopaedics and oncology for people residing in the UAE, as well as international patients.
Prof. Abdul Karim Msaddi, Chairman and Medical Director of the hospital, said: “We are proud to bring world-class healthcare services to Dubai and believe our next-generation hospital will be a game-changer for the emirate’s and the region’s medical industry.
"It will not only significantly increase the availability of specialist neuroscience and radiosurgery treatments and provide better patient care but help attract and develop local and international talent. Investing in the new centre represents our continued faith in the resilience of the region’s economy, as well as a testament to our ongoing drive towards healthcare innovation in the UAE.”