ISLAMABAD (Adeeb Kakar): Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif spoke on the telephone today with Mr. Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). They discussed the ongoing public health and social sector programmes supported by BMGF in Pakistan.
The Prime Minister appreciated the valuable support extended by the BMGF to Pakistan in polio eradication and improving immunisation, nutrition and financial inclusion in the country. He also reaffirmed Pakistan’s desire to further strengthen the fruitful partnership with the Foundation in all the ongoing areas of cooperation.
The Prime Minister expressed grave concern on the recent increase in the number of confirmed cases of poliovirus in Pakistan in 2022 and stressed that his Government remained committed to ending all forms of polio from the country. While noting that all cases of poliovirus confirmed so far this year belonged to the southern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP), the Prime Minister highlighted that his Government was actively implementing the special emergency response plan for south KP to scale up and improve the quality of the polio eradication programme.
The Prime Minister conveyed to Mr. Gates that his Government was also focused on strengthening operations at all levels of the program and empowering districts to make decisions based on the specific needs of their areas. He also mentioned that providing safety and security to all members of the polio programme, especially the frontline workers, would be his Government’s high priority.
Mr. Gates shared the concern and reiterated the Foundation’s continued support to Pakistan for ensuring that no child is at risk of paralysis due to poliovirus.
The Prime Minister and Mr. Gates also exchanged views on BMGF’s support for various other government-led programmes aimed at addressing malnutrition and stunting, essential immunisation services, micropayment gateway RAAST, and digitization of the National Savings Programme.