Tuesday Apr 26, 2022
ISLAMABAD: After Pakistan detected its first polio case in 15 months, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif assured Bill Gates that his government remains “committed to eradicate all forms of polio from the country”.
A statement issued by the PM office said that the premier spoke to Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Bill Gates on telephone.
The statement said that the ongoing public health and social sector programmes supported by the foundation in Pakistan were discussed, including polio eradication and the foundation’s support towards improving immunisation, nutrition and financial inclusion services in Pakistan.
“The prime minister underscored that Pakistan deeply values its cooperation with BMGF. He reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to further solidifying its fruitful partnership with the Foundation in all the ongoing areas of work,” said the PM Office.
While noting that only one case of polio was recorded in 2021, the PM stressed that his government remained committed to eradicate all forms of polio from the country.
During the call, the premier also expressed grave concern on the first polio case of 2022, after 15 months, which was recently confirmed in a child in North Waziristan.
He also informed Gates that the government is already implementing a “special emergency response plan for South Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province” to scale up and improve the quality of the polio eradication programme and increase security of frontline health workers.
On the other hand, Gates acknowledged the positive progress and reiterated the foundation’s continued support to Pakistan for ensuring that no child is at risk of paralysis due to poliovirus.
“Recalling the polio related challenges faced by Afghanistan, the Prime Minister expressed satisfaction on the resumption of polio vaccination campaigns in Afghanistan. He underlined the need for adequate international support to Afghanistan in that regard,” said the statement.
The PM Office also shared that PM Shehbaz and Gates also exchanged views on Pakistan’s COVID-19 vaccination drive.