NEW YORK   -   Prime Minister Muham­mad Shehbaz Sharif Thursday met Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Founda­tion, to discuss the re­cent devastation caused by flooding in Pakistan, which has displaced 33 million people, as well as polio eradication and primary health services in the country. 

The prime minister updated Mr Gates on the impact of the floods on the people’s lives and livelihoods, and public health in Pakistan, and the work the govern­ment was urgently un­dertaking to alleviate their sufferings. 

Bill Gates expressed his concern for the peo­ple of Pakistan following the floods and reiterated the Foundation’s contin­uous support and part­nership with Pakistan during the challenging time. He affirmed that the Gates Foundation would continue its cur­rent support including 

the disaster relief efforts in flood-affected areas of Baloch­istan and Sindh.

The prime minister and Mr Gates discussed the impact of the floods on immunization and maternal health services, and polio eradication in par­ticular. The prime minister ac­knowledged the need to priori­tise maternal and newborn care in the flood-affected areas and thanked Mr Gates for the Foun­dation’s support to Pakistan’s relief efforts thus far.

On the polio eradication, the prime minister and Mr Gates discussed that eradication ef­forts were facing a challenging situation because of the floods, especially after a recent rise in the number of wild polio cases. The prime minister reaffirmed the government’s resolve to pur­sue the campaign relentlessly.

They agreed to continue their collaboration with polio part­ners to urgently reach vulnera­ble children with polio vaccines through the remainder of 2022 and prevent the disease re-es­tablishing itself in Pakistan’s major cities. Mr Gates thanked the prime minister for his con­tinued prioritization of the po­lio eradication. 

They also spoke of how the polio programme was using its robust infrastructure to sup­port the acute phase of the flood response, including de­ploying its surveillance system to monitor for malaria, dengue, and water-borne disease out­breaks as well as helping to de­liver other life-saving vaccines to the children.

The polio programme, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is currently conducting 1,200 health camps in the worst flood-affected dis­tricts across Pakistan.

They exchanged views on the need to continue their close part­nership together to ensure Paki­stan make progress on health and development, including for enhancing agricultural resilience and rebuilding sustainable infra­structure that can withstand fu­ture climate shocks.

PM, UN SECRETARY GENERAL DISCUSS DIVERSE MATTERS

Prime Minister Shehbaz Shar­if Thursday here held a meeting with the United Nations Secre­tary General Antonio Guterres and exchanged views on di­verse matters.