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Billionaires Aim To End Polio

Billionaires Ted Turner and Bill Gates are pitching in to help the World Health Organization meet its goal of eradicating polio by the end of next year.

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.

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