Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and billionaire philanthropist, spoke on the phone with Prime Minister Shebaz Sharif on Tuesday, promising Pakistan the continued support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). “In that country.
In a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office, Gates welcomed the summit as “positive progress” in Pakistan’s efforts to contain the disease.
The two dignitaries discussed ongoing public health and social sector programs, including support from the Foundation to eradicate polio and improve immunization, nutrition and financial inclusion services in Pakistan.
In his speech, Shehbaz deeply appreciates Pakistan’s cooperation with the BMGF and reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to further solidify “beneficial partnerships with the Foundation in all areas of ongoing work”.
“Pakistan has made progress towards eradicating polio and is grateful for the valuable support provided by the BMGF in this regard,” the statement said.
The prime minister said the government is doing its best to eradicate all forms of polio in the country, noting that only one case of polio was found in the country in 2021.
He also expressed serious concerns about the first case of the polio virus in 2022, the first in 15 months recently confirmed in a child in North Waziristan.
Also read: Pakistan reports first polio outbreak in 15 months
“A special emergency response plan for the South Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa region is already in place to expand and improve the quality of our polio eradication program and enhance the security of frontline health workers,” the statement said.
The Prime Minister recalled the polio-related challenges faced across borders and expressed satisfaction with the resumption of polio vaccination campaigns in Afghanistan.
The Prime Minister and Gates discussed BMGF’s support for a variety of government-led programs aimed at malnutrition and stunting, essential immunization services, operationalization of micropayment gateways, financial consolidation and digitization of national savings programs.
It is appropriate to mention here that Gates first visited Pakistan on February 17 and met then Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Later, President Arif Alvi presented the Hilal-i-Pakistan Award to Gates at a special event in Islamabad “in recognition of his support for poverty alleviation and health care”.