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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that he asked Bill Gates if he could set up a Microsoft incubation lab in Pakistan.

The prime minister spoke with Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and both exchanged views on the ongoing polio eradication campaign in the country as well as on Pakistan’s response to the public health challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The prime minister stated that he spoke with Bill Gates and thanked him for the help his foundation provided for polio eradication in Pakistan.

This time last year we had 56 reported cases - this year so far only one case, he said, adding that the country will eradicate polio completely in the coming years.

The prime minister appreciated the work of BMGF for the socio-economic uplift of the most disadvantaged people around the globe, especially for promoting universal access to health services and combating of infectious diseases.

He expressed gratitude, in particular, for the BMGF’s partnership with Pakistan to rid the country of polio.

The prime minister reaffirmed that polio eradication remained a key national priority for the government and earnest efforts were continuing to further intensify the anti-polio campaign across the country, despite the challenges imposed by the Covid-19 crisis, in order to achieve a polio-free Pakistan.

Recalling that a special polio eradication campaign launched in the country earlier this month (7-11 June 2021), during which vaccine drops were administered to over 33 million children under five years of age, the prime minister expressed his satisfaction over the substantive progress in cutting the transmission of the poliovirus in the country.

He hoped that polio will be eradicated soon with the support of all the partners.

Bill Gates expressed his appreciation for the prime minister’s leadership for this national cause.

Gates added that while progress is encouraging, keeping up pressure will be the key to ending transmission for good.

The prime minister also highlighted Pakistan’s efforts to overcome the third wave of coronavirus in the country.

While alluding to Pakistan’s potential in the Information Technology (IT) sector and government’s business-friendly IT policy, the prime minister encouraged Microsoft to further expand its footprints in Pakistan.

Thursday’s telephone call follows the high-level GPEI (Global Polio Eradication Initiative) Polio Oversight Board (POB) delegation visit to Pakistan in early June, when Prime Minister Imran Khan met with POB leadership and had convened the National Task Force on Polio Eradication.

The new GPEI Polio Eradication Strategy was launched on 10 June 2021, in a global (virtual) event featuring high-level participation from Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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