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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday expressing Pakistan’s commitment to eradicate polio said that Afghanistan being the primary source of polio incidence in the country’s two bordering provinces, required urgent international support to avert humanitarian crisis including health emergency.

He said that Pakistan was providing full support for the sake of 40 million Afghan people in need of basic amenities.

The Prime Minister told the meeting of National Task Force for Polio Eradication here which was also attended, on his special invitation, by Co-Founder of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates.

While welcoming Gates, on his first ever visit to Pakistan, the Prime Minister thanked the Foundation for its continued support and partnership with the Government of Pakistan in polio eradication.

PM Imran urges Bill Gates to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan

He underlined that the government was fully committed and determined towards polio eradication.

The Prime Minister directed Deputy Commissioners of the districts adjoining Afghanistan borders particularly Southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to remain vigilant and proactive against contamination of polio virus.

Bill Gates thanked the Prime Minister for inviting him and extending warm hospitality on his first ever visit to Pakistan.

He highly appreciated the efforts of the leadership, health workers and parents for working tirelessly to ensure that polio never paralyzes a child again.

Bill Gates said that despite Covid-19 restrictions, Pakistan had performed amazingly and had continued with polio vaccinations.

The National Task Force on Polio Eradication paid tributes to the 36 frontline workers and 14 law enforcement personnel who lost their lives during polio vaccination to the children across the country.

Earlier, the Task Force was briefed that Pakistan had completed one year of zero polio incidence. However, the virus has been detected in environmental samples in southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan province.

It was apprised that national level polio vaccination campaigns have been launched in December, 2021 and January, 2022 with the integration of routine immunizations for children.

There is effective coordination among federal and provincial governments with support from law enforcement agencies for provision of security in risk areas.

The provincial governments apprised the meeting about resources allocated towards polio campaign and expressed full commitment towards making Pakistan polio free.

The meeting was attended by Special Assistant to PM (SAPM) Dr Faisal Sultan, Governor KP Shah Farman, Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar, Chief Minister KP Mehmood Khan, Prime Minister Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan Niazi, Chief Minister Gilgit Baltistan Khalid Khurshid, Minister for Health Sindh Azra Fazal Pechuho, Health Minister Balochistan Ehsan Shah, representatives of the international organizations and senior officers.

Deputy Commissioners from across Pakistan joined via video link.

Earlier, the Prime Minister had a one-on-one meeting with Bill Gates and also hosted a lunch in his honour that was attended by Federal Ministers Shaukat Tarin, Asad Umer, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Khusro Bakhtiar, SAPM Dr Faisal Sultan, Governor KP, Chief Ministers of Punjab, KP and Gilgit Baltistan and Prime Minister AJK.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister in a tweet said it was a pleasure to welcome Bill Gates who came to Pakistan on his invitation.

Apart from his many achievements, he said Bill Gates was admired globally for his philanthropy. “On behalf of our nation I thank him for his immense contribution towards polio eradication & poverty alleviation initiatives,” Imran Khan added.

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