Artist: Esha Chhabra
    Title: Meet the 'Silent Partner' in Polio Eradication: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
    Length: 21:37 minutes (19.8 MB)
    Format: Stereo 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)

Linda Venczel is the Senior Program Officer of Vaccine Preventable Diseases at the Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington. She's had an admirable career in public health. Before heading west to the Gates Foundation, Linda worked on polio eradication at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She's a Peace Corps alumn, serving two years in Senegal, West Africa and an advocate of travel and volunteer work in the field.

Linda's just back from India and she's got updates!

1. Bihar- one of India's polio-endemic states- has been hit by floods- floods tend to complication vaccination processes.

2. A new bivalent vaccine has left the research labs and is in the field (being tested in parts of India). The vaccine will target both P1 and P3- two strains of polio.

Plus, she's thrilled to hear President Obama mention polio eradication in his Cairo speech! As she says, they've got a plan in the works that will show us some action in the coming months. We're thrilled to hear that as well.

Plus, there's more research going at the Gates Foundation- research that'll help us better understand the virus and ways to combat it.

Hear Linda share her thoughts on polio, the Foundation, and more!

To learn more about the Gates Foundation and its work on polio, check out their site: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/topics/Pages/polio.aspx

Cliff Notes (to help w/ poor sound quality):

1. Why do some children need to be vaccinated multiple times in India?

Sanitation is one of the issues- dirty water leads to diarrhea. However, there are others: Rotavirus (which causes severe diarrhea), Giardia parasites in the gut, lack of nutrition (many of these children are severely malnourished).

2. Research at the Gates Foundation:

New research that will completed in the fall will provide more details on polio. With Indian government, looking at an intervention that would complement the vaccine with zinc.

3. India vs. Nigeria

Nigeria is a 'failure to vaccinate'- don't have the proper planning and logistics- so they miss a lot of children. However, change in leadership can help make strides there. Reduced 60% in the number of kids who'd never been vaccinated for polio.

4. Advocacy:

Work with GPEI (the Global Polio Eradication Initiative) and coordinate with them on advocacy. Bill Gates made personal trips to India, Nigeria, WHO offices (met with Margaret Chan).

5. Af-Pak situation:

Security! Two WHO doctors killed last year in Afghanistan.
Sent one team member to Pakistan. The Foundation also funds activities in both states.
Movement of people out of Swat makes it hard to vaccinate those living w/ families in homes (not UNHCR camps)

6. Gates Foundation awards Rotary $255 million this year for polio.

Before giving grants to polio and working on the disease, now a 'silent partner' in the GPEI- and 'reinvigorated' interest in polio.

7. Technology and polio:

Already using PDAs and cellphones to a certain extent. Technology has its limits also- in surveys, can't always put a lot of information into cellphones.

8. Manufacturing of the vaccine at the lowest cost:

Largely, that's WHO and UNICEF's role to locate manufacturers and asses the quality of the vaccine. However, encourage making vaccines in developing nations.

9. Date set for eradication- 2013?

Not ideal to aim for these dates. Rather, will press on with research and listen to country's specific needs. The biggest challenge is getting to people in politically unstable regions or those affected by war.

10. Advice for the youth on a career that incorporates development:

Get out in the field, learn a language, be a volunteer (skip the day job, if you can for a while), and learn at the grassroots-level!!

Author's Bio: 

Intent.com
Intent.com is a premier wellness site and supportive social network where like-minded individuals can connect and support each others' intentions. Founded by Deepak Chopra's daughter Mallika Chopra, Intent.com aims to be the most trusted and comprehensive wellness destination featuring a supportive community of members, blogs from top wellness experts and curated online content relating to Personal, Social, Global and Spiritual wellness.