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WASHINGTON: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar is pictured with Bill Gates at the Gates Foundation headquarters here. — APP
WASHINGTON: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar is pictured with Bill Gates at the Gates Foundation headquarters here. — APP

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protec­tion and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar on Monday met Bill Gates, co-chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and discussed with him the pressing health and development needs in Pakistan.

According to a statement issued here, the meeting took place at the Gates Foundation headquarters in the United States.

The Gates Foundation is a major supporter of health and development around the world. In Pakistan, much of the foundation’s work focuses on eradication of polio, introduction of new vaccines and strengthening of immunisation.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are now the only two countries in the world that are still reporting cases of the deadly polio virus.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries still reporting polio cases

During the meeting, Dr Nishtar and Bill Gates discussed key foundation partnerships in Pakistan, including the polio eradication programme, routine immunisation and improving access to digital financial services for the poor.

Pakistan is a leader in South Asia in using mobile money accounts.

The Gates Foundation is supporting the expansion of this work through its local partner Karandaaz. This involves assisting the Bena­zir Income Support Progra­mme (BISP) chaired by Dr Nishtar to explore upcoming opportunities in the digital financial services space to further support the needs of low-income communities.

This will focus largely on health, education and livelihood challenges faced by BISP beneficiaries.

The statement said Dr Nishtar and Bill also discussed innovative ways of addressing stunting and malnutrition in young children which is a high priority area for the government of Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2019