ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif spoke on telephone Tuesday with Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), said a press release. The ongoing public health and social sector programmes supported by BMGF in Pakistan were discussed, including polio eradication and the Foundation’s support towards improving immunisation, nutrition and financial inclusion services in Pakistan.

The prime minister underscored that Pakistan deeply values its cooperation with BMGF. He reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to further solidifying its fruitful partnership with the Foundation in all the ongoing areas of work.

Pakistan has maintained progress towards polio eradication and appreciates the invaluable assistance provided by BMGF in that regard. While noting that only one case of polio was recorded in 2021, the prime minister stressed that his government remained committed to eradicate all forms of polio from the country.

The prime minister expressed grave concern on the first case of poliovirus in 2022, after 15 months, which was recently confirmed in a child in North Waziristan. He noted that a special emergency response plan for South Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province is already under implementation to scale up and improve the quality of the polio eradication programme and increase security of frontline health workers.

Gates acknowledged the positive progress and reiterated the Foundation’s continued support to Pakistan for ensuring that no child is at risk of paralysis due to poliovirus.

Recalling the polio related challenges faced by Afghanistan, the prime minister expressed satisfaction on the resumption of polio vaccination campaigns in Afghanistan.

He underlined the need for adequate international support to Afghanistan in that regard.

The prime minister and Gates also exchanged views on Pakistan’s Covid-19 vaccination drive. Moreover, they discussed BMGF’s support for various other government-led programmes aimed at addressing malnutrition and stunting, essential immunisation services, operationalisation of micro payment gateways financial inclusion, and digitization of the National Savings Programme.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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