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In telephone call with Bill Gates, PM Shehbaz reiterates commitment to eradicate all forms of polio

In telephone call with Bill Gates, PM Shehbaz reiterates commitment to eradicate all forms of polio

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday stressed to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates that Pakistan remained committed to ending all forms of polio in the country.

The prime minister had a telephone call with Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the Prime Minister’s Office said in a press release.

The prime minister “appreciated the valuable support” extended by the BMGF to Pakistan in polio eradication and improving immunisation, nutrition and financial inclusion, particularly during last year’s catastrophic floods.

He also “reaffirmed Pakistan’s desire to further strengthen the fruitful partnership with the Foundation in all the ongoing areas of cooperation.”

While expressing concern over the reporting of new cases in 2022 after one year without any polio cases, PM Shehbaz noted that there had been a pause in polio cases since September 2022.

In light of last year’s devastating floods, which had adversely affected the ongoing polio vaccination efforts due to large-scale displacements and destruction of healthcare infrastructure, the prime minister emphasised that the government was “actively implementing” the special emergency response plan and would continue to find and adopt ways to reach out to children in such times.

He apprised Gates of the efforts of the federal minister for national health services and his team to eradicate polio from the country and appreciated those efforts.

Both sides also discussed other government-led programmes, supported by the BMGF, to address malnutrition and stunting, essential immunisation services, micropayment gateway Raast and digitalisation of the National Savings Programme.

Gates acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts to eradicate polio while reiterating his Foundation’s “continued support to Pakistan in its aim to ensure that no child would be at risk of paralysis due to poliovirus”.

Both sides agreed to continue working together on the shared objectives.

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