Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation set to partner Zim in fighting polio

By Abigirl Tembo, Health Editor

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has expressed interest in working with Zimbabwe to prevent the re-emergence of the polio virus in the country after it was detected in neighbouring Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia.

Representatives of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation held a closed door meeting with Vice President General (Retired) Dr Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care, in Lome, Togo this Wednesday on the sidelines of 72nd Session of the WHO Regional Committee Meeting for Africa, with the foundation pledging to work with Zimbabwe in its fight against polio.

Speaking to ZBC News after meeting Dr Chris Elias, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Polio Oversight Board Chair and President, Vice President Chiwenga expressed interest in partnering the foundation.

“I had a meeting with members of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation who are also attending the meeting here in Lomé. They were offering assistance for the polio and measles. We were very clear to them that we would prefer in the polio side that we get the OPV not the Novel. As you are quite aware that we said we are open and His Excellency, the President has made it very clear that we are open to everyone. We have no enemy. It was quite interesting that they came to offer this at their own volition,” said Vice President Chiwenga.

If approved, the foundation will through UNDP contribute technical and financial resources to accelerate targeted vaccination campaigns, community mobilisation, routine immunisation, improving polio surveillance and outbreak response as well as galvanising financial support for polio eradication efforts.