The United Nations Foundation, a Turner charity, announced Tuesday it would donate $28 million toward eradication of the crippling disease. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a charity set up by the software tycoon, will give an additional $50 million.
"The bottom line is polio is close to being eradicated," said Trevor Neilson, a spokesman for the Gates Foundation. "There's the feeling that if a few hundred million more dollars can be found, we can say goodbye to polio."
The $78 million will be spent on research, equipment and training in areas where polio remains a major problem, said David Harwood, a spokesman for the Turner charity.
Earlier this year, the World Health Organization estimated that the campaign to rid the world of polio by the end of next year would fall $500 million short of its $1.25 billion price tag. Several health organizations warned last week that an additional $50 million would be needed just to buy vaccines for next year.
While vaccines have nearly eliminated polio in the United States, the disease remains a threat in more than 30 countries in the Mideast, South Asia and Africa.
Turner, the founder of Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting, established his foundation in 1998 after pledging to give $1 billion over 10 years to U.N. projects that benefit the environment and women and children's health.