Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates met Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and praised India’s triumph over polio, even as the software tycoon’s foundation is also helping India contain HIV/AIDS. The country has 2.5 million people infected with the deadly disease. India has not reported any new polio case since last year. Following this, the World Health Organisation (WHO) removed India’s name from the list of polio endemic countries. Azad said the Gates foundation, which also provides financial and infrastructural help to India on containing malaria and tuberculosis, has “extended catalytic support to innovations in health, particularly in HIV/AIDS and polio.”
He said support from Gates Foundation is valuable. Apart from polio – a paralytic disease, the two also discussed the country’s initiative in bringing down HIV/AIDS infections. ”He (Gates) said that in fact the strides made by India (on the health front) go beyond his expectations,” a statement issued here said. The meeting between them lasted one-and-half hours. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the government partners in eradicating polio from the country. The minister also said that they have earmarked this year as the year of intensifying routine immunisation programme in the country. Azad said the Gates Foundation has helped in establishing Immunisation Technical Support Unit (ITSU) in order to accelerate coverage and to ensure system preparedness for new vaccines.