Prime Minister Imran Khan and Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), have discussed resumption of anti-polio campaigns in Afghanistan to secure Pakistan’s recent gains in elimination of the crippling virus.
In a telephonic conversation held Tuesday, both expressed concern regarding the health system in Afghanistan – the only other country in the world that is polio endemic along with Pakistan.
The prime minister highlighted that more than half of the population in Afghanistan was living below poverty line and in dire need of financial assistance.
He urged Bill Gates to consider providing humanitarian assistance to Afghan people.
During the conversation, the polio eradication efforts and the foundation’s support towards improving nutrition as well as financial services in Pakistan came under discussion.
The prime minister updated Bill Gates on Pakistan’s continued progress against polio eradication and appreciated the invaluable assistance provided by BMGF in that regard.
He added that the country had reported only one case of wild poliovirus (WPV) this year and positive WPV environmental samples have decreased substantially.
The prime minister emphasized that while the progress was positive, the work was still ongoing.
He stressed that his government remained committed to ending all forms of polio in the country.
Bill Gates praised Prime Minister Khan for the progress, and pledged the Foundation’s continued support to the Pakistan polio programme for ensuring that no child in Pakistan was at risk of paralysis due to poliovirus.
He noted the positive impact of the premier’s leadership in convening a meeting with deputy commissioners in high-risk polio districts in August.
Gates congratulated the prime minister for Pakistan’s COVID-19 vaccine roll-out and noted the Foundation’s continued support of government-led programs, including Ehsaas which was making impressive progress in reducing stunting, and the digitization of the National Savings Program through Karandaaz.
Gates offered continued collaboration through the Gates Foundation to improve the health and well-being of Pakistanis.
The prime minister thanked Gates for his Foundation’s valuable partnership with Pakistan.