Bill Gates said he would not rule out a meeting with the Taliban if it helped to erdicate polio in Afghanistan
Gates said that world leaders were not taking the threat of disease seriously but he would do pretty much anything to help the polio campaign adding that it was his Foundation’s top priority
He warned however that the floods in Pakistan could derail one of his greatest ambitions, to wipe polio off the face of the earth.
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The Telegraph reports: The Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist has been at the forefront of efforts to eradicate the debilitating childhood disease for two decades. Now, against the odds, wild polio is circulating in just two remaining strongholds – Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In an interview, Mr Gates told the Telegraph that there’s little he wouldn’t do to help eradicate polio completely.
When asked if this included sitting down with the Taliban in Afghanistan to ensure access, Mr Gates said: “Honestly, I don’t know if there’s some sensitivity around that. I would do pretty much anything to help the polio campaign, it’s the [Bill and Melinda Gates] Foundation’s top priority.”
He said that the Foundation’s partners have been able to meet with the Taliban in Qatar, but it’s “a very complicated situation” given US sanctions. He is pleased, however, that the group kept the previous health minister in position, who “was quite capable”.
But Mr Gates warned against complacency, especially amid several significant setbacks. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan have been wracked by insecurity and humanitarian crises in the last year, complicating the response and diverting resources earmarked for polio.