By Patricia Uyeh,
Billionaire philanthropists, Bill and Melinda Gates will pay off $76 million of Nigeria’s debt through their foundation. The payments, which will be made over the course of 20 years, kicks off this year.
In 2014, Nigeria borrowed the money from Japan to fund its fight against the polio disease, Quartz reports. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has “agreed to repay the loan after Nigeria met the condition of achieving more than 80% vaccination coverage in at least one round each year in very high risk areas across 80% of the country’s local government areas,” according to Quartz.
However, no new cases of polio were reported in the country in 2017,which is a drastic change from 2012, when Nigeria had over half of all polio cases worldwide, according to the publication.
In a recent blog post, Gates wrote:
“The heroes who have made this progress possible are the millions of vaccinators who have gone door to door to immunize more than 2.5 billion children. Thanks to their work, 16 million people who would have been paralyzed are walking today.”
Polio is “a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease,” which, after invading the nervous system, can cause paralysis. Among those paralyzed, two to 10 percent die.
The Gates Foundation spent $3 billion in 2017 to help stop the spread of the disease, and names polio eradication one of its “top priorities.” The foundation says it has supported the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s efforts to wipe out the disease by contributing technical and financial resources to accelerate targeted vaccination campaigns, community mobilization and routine immunizations.
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