ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Gates Foundation head Bill Gates on Monday vowed to eradicate polio from Pakistan.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, PM received Mr Gates at the Prime Minister’s House, and the visit was undertaken at the invitation of the prime minister, who had invited Mr Gates to visit Pakistan during their interaction in Riyadh, on the sidelines of the recent World Economic Forum.

Welcoming Mr Gates, the prime minister updated him about the government’s efforts to achieve economic stability and key advances in digital financial services, increased health coverage, climate change adaptation and efforts to eradicate polio.

Mr Sharif deeply appreciated the Gates Foundation’s valuable support for government’s initiatives to digitise the economy. A digitised economy of the entire government structure will result in enhanced revenues that will help improve governance and the government would be able to spend more on public welfare schemes, he added.

Premier thanks Gates Foundation for being largest donor to polio eradication programme

Thanking the Gates Foundation for being the largest donor to the country’s polio eradication programme, the prime minister outlined a robust and focused strategy to counter threats of increased wild poliovirus infections and the actions needed to overcome the disease.

Mr Gates thanked the prime minister for his continued dedication and personal interest in eradicating the wild poliovirus from the country.

He also expressed his confidence that with a sustained vaccination campaign and firm commitment of the government, polio eradication drive would get back on track to end polio following the recent surge in environmental detections.

Mr Gates also underscored how Pakistan’s deployment of data science tools and digital technology are important resources to continue to improve the lives of Pakistanis in the country.

Both sides agreed to continue working together to not only eradicate polio, but to strengthen health systems in the provinces, and to ensure prosperity for all people, especially women and girls.

PM Shehbaz and Mr Gates also visited the National Disaster Management Authority’s Natio­nal Emergencies Operations Centre (NEOC), where they were briefed by NDMA chief Lt-Gen Inam Haider Malik on mechanisms in place to predict and cope with any disaster, including both natural catastrophes and human-induced incidents.

Later, an interactive session was held including the prime minister, Mr Gates, Information Minister Attaullah Tarar, PM’s aide for climate change Romina Khursheed Alam as well as entrepreneurs, climate change activists and experts.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2024

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