PM meets Bill Gates, vows to completely eradicate polio from Pakistan

Shehbaz Sharif lauds Gates Foundation’s support for govt’s initiatives . PM, Gates visits National Emergencies Operations Centre

ISLAMABAD   -  The National Task Force on Polio Eradication Monday expressed the resolve to employ all resources to eliminate polio from Pakistan. The meeting of the National Taskforce on Polio Eradication was held in Islamabad today with Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif in the chair.

Chair of Gates Foundation Bill Gates together with President Global Development Dr. Chris Elias, President Gender Equality and Michael Galway Dr Anita Zaidi, Deputy Director of Polio Eradication of the Gates Foundation along with partner organizations of Rotary, UNICEF, WHO and Centre for Disease Control attended the meeting.    

The Prime Minister appreciated Gates Foundation for its key partnership and long association in the polio eradication programme.

He also appreciated the dedication of frontline workers, government leadership and partner support for the significant progress against polio.

Shehbaz Sharif resolved that as long as the virus continues to circulate and paralyze children, our efforts would continue with full force.

He directed all stakeholders to ensure that every child in Pakistan receives multiple doses of the vaccine and is protected against polio.

He emphasized that provinces should lead polio eradication efforts in their regions with a sense of urgency to interrupt wild poliovirus transmission this year.

Bill Gates, in his remarks underscored that his foundation will continue to extend support to Pakistan for polio eradication.

He also emphasized obtaining maximum vaccination coverage during polio vaccination campaigns.

The meeting was briefed about the challenges in implementing successive polio drives in several areas, particularly in security-compromised areas and some parts of Balochistan.

The meeting was also briefed about different steps taken by provincial governments to eradicate Polio Virus and recent trends in immunization.

It was told that Punjab has been leading in routine immunization and its ratio is the highest among the provinces. An overview of the ongoing response to the recent surge in wild poliovirus detections throughout Pakistan was also given to participants.

Also, Chair of the Gates Foundation, Bill Gates called on Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif in Islamabad today.

During the meeting, they agreed to continue working together to not only eradicate polio, but to strengthen health systems across the provinces, and ensure prosperity for all Pakistanis, especially women and girls.                        

The prime minister updated Bill Gates about the government’s efforts to achieve economic stability and key advances in digital financial services, increased health coverage, climate change adaptation and efforts to eradicate polio.

Thanking the Gates Foundation for being the largest donor for the polio eradication programme, the Prime Minister outlined a robust and focused strategy to counter threats of increased wild poliovirus infections and actions needed to overcome the challenge to completely wipe out the disease in Pakistan.

He reiterated the commitment to eradicate polio as it remains the highest priority for the government and emphasized that all resources will be employed to provide security to polio workers.    

He said he will personally monitor national efforts until the crippling disease is wiped-out from the country.

The Prime Minister deeply appreciated Gates Foundation’s valuable support for government’s initiatives to digitize economy.         

A digitized eco-system of the entire government structure will result in enhanced revenues that will help improve governance.

Shehbaz Sharif underlined that Pakistan and Gates Foundation share the goals of closing the gender gap, increasing health coverage, improving food security, climate change adaptation, and financial inclusion.     

Bill Gates thanked the Prime Minister for his continued dedication and personal interest in eradicating wild polio from the country.

He expressed confidence that with a sustained vaccination campaign and firm commitment of the Government, polio eradication drive would get back on track to end polio following the recent surge in environmental detections.          

Bill Gates underscored that Pakistan’s deployment of data science tools and digital technology are important resources is improving lives of Pakistanis across the country.  

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Gates Foundation Chairman Bill Gates on Monday visited the National Emergencies Operations Centre (NEOC). National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt General Inam Haider Malik gave a comprehensive briefing about the NDMA and NEOC encompassing the pre and post-disaster mechanisms that are in place to predict and cope with any disaster including both natural catastrophes and human-induced incidents. The prime minister and the Gates Foundation chairman visited different sections of the NEOC whereby experts briefed them about the operations of the organization. Bill Gates appreciated the state of the art facilities at NEOC and underscored the importance of predictions of disasters to mitigate the losses and to expedite reconstruction and rehabilitation in the aftermath.

He also appreciated the efforts of the current government in prioritizing the important area as climate change was adversely affecting the vulnerable countries as happened in Pakistan during the floods of 2022. Afterwards, an interactive session including the prime minister, Gates Foundation chairman, Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting and Cultural Heritage Attaullah Tarar, Coordinator to Prime Minister on Climate Change Romina Khursheed Alam, entrepreneurs, climate change activists and experts was held. The session discussed innovative steps and tailor made solutions for Pakistan regarding health, nutrition, gender balance, preventive diseases, climate change, disaster management, climate resilient agriculture and other multiple areas. The meeting concluded with a firm resolve of cooperation between the Gates Foundation and Pakistan to come up with solutions to the issues with mutual cooperation.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif thanked Bill Gates for his resolve to help Pakistan in multiple areas that would benefit the common man.

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