In meeting with Bill Gates, PM Shehbaz vows to eradicate polio from Pakistan

Published June 24, 2024
Chairman Gates Foundation Bill Gates calls on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on June 24, 2024.—Photo courtesy: PID
Chairman Gates Foundation Bill Gates calls on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on June 24, 2024.—Photo courtesy: PID

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday reaffirmed his resolve to completely eradicate polio from the country in a meeting attended by Bill Gates and officials of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

The meeting of the National Taskforce for Polio Eradication in Islamabad marks the second time Gates has visited Pakistan, previously meeting then-PM Imran Khan in February 2022 on the premier’s “special invitation”.

The premier had earlier met Gates in April on the World Economic Forum summit’s sidelines where he said that Pakistan was working tirelessly to eradicate polio from the country.

He thanked the BMGF for its longstanding support for polio eradication in Pakistan and said that a sustained effort was required by all partners to reach the ultimate goal of a polio-free Pakistan

Today, Shehbaz emphasised that the federal and provincial governments are working in unison to eradicate polio, noting that five polio eradication campaigns have been conducted in the past six months.

Nine more positive environmental samples for polio were detected last week, taking the tally for the current year to 185. Five cases of polio have been reported this year.

The prime minister highlighted other areas of cooperation with the foundation, including digitisation, saying it would bring huge dividends to Pakistan’s economy.

Speaking on the occasion, Gates said that polio eradication efforts would continue for the next two to three years to ensure total eradication of polio from Pakistan.

Earlier in March, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur expressed his determination at making the province polio-free in a meeting with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Deputy Director Micheal Galloway.

In a telephone call with Gates last year, Shehbaz emphasised to the Microsoft co-founder that Pakistan remained committed to ending all forms of polio in the country.

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