Bill Gates: 16M reasons to be optimistic about polio

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Entrepreneur Bill Gates helps give infant the anti-polio vaccine.

• From GatesNotes: The Blog of Bill Gates

People often ask me how I know the world is getting better. I usually point to numbers like this one: Because of efforts to eradicate polio by groups like Rotary International, more than 16 million people are walking today who would otherwise have been paralyzed.

That’s more than 16 million people who can walk to school. More than 16 million people who are better able to start a business or carry their child to bed. More than 16 million people who are living better lives, because a group of health care workers, volunteers, government leaders, and funders devoted themselves to fighting polio.

Rotary International is one of the key players in this global coalition. For more than 30 years, their volunteers have traveled to some of the most remote, most dangerous parts of the world to administer vaccines to children. Their members have donated their time and resources to keep eradication on the global agenda. They are part of the reason why we are breathtakingly close to wiping polio off the map for good.

At their annual convention in Atlanta, I encouraged more than 25,000 Rotarians to keep fighting. We’ve gone from 40 cases an hour back in 1988 to just 40 cases in all of 2016. But if we stop now and don’t get to zero, experts say that within a decade there would be 200,000 new cases of polio every year.

We’re closer now than we have ever been to eradication. If groups like Rotary keep going, no person will ever have to suffer from polio again.

Click here for the full text of his Atlanta remarks.

Here is the text of my remarks:

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