Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif spoke by phone with Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).
Discussions focused on the Foundation’s continuing public health and social sector programs in Pakistan, which include efforts to eradicate polio and support for initiatives to improve immunization, nutrition, and financial inclusion services in the country.
Even though only one case of polio was reported in 2021, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that his government was still determined to eradicate all forms of the devastating illness in all its forms.
He voiced extreme concern about the first case of poliovirus in 2022, which was just confirmed in a child in North Waziristan, 15 months after the outbreak began. He stated that a particular emergency response plan for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is already in place and being implemented in order to scale up and improve the quality of the polio eradication program, as well as to increase the security of frontline health workers in the region.
Mr. Gates acknowledged the excellent developments and reaffirmed the Foundation’s commitment to providing ongoing assistance to Pakistan in order to ensure that no kid was at risk of paralysis as a result of the poliovirus.
Recalling the polio-related issues that Afghanistan has encountered in the past, the prime minister expressed his happiness with the beginning of polio vaccination efforts in Afghanistan and stressed the importance of providing Afghanistan with enough international help in this respect.
PM Shehbaz and Mr. Bill Gates also discussed Pakistan’s COVID-19 immunization campaign, which is now underway.
Furthermore, they discussed the support provided by the BMGF for a number of other government-led initiatives, including those addressing malnutrition and stunting, providing essential immunization services, operationalizing micropayment gateways to increase financial inclusion, and digitizing the National Savings Program.