Bill Gates impressed with Pakistan’s polio eradication

On Thursday, Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates lauded the quality and impact of Pakistan’s polio eradication programme.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chairman reaffirmed his commitment to fighting the crippling disease in Pakistan and other affected countries.

Gates arrived in Islamabad on a day-long visit on Thursday. He met President Dr Arif Alvi, PM Imran Khan and several top government functionaries.

This was Gates’ first-ever visit to the country.

PM Khan thanked the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its support to Pakistan for polio eradication.

The philanthropist also attended a meeting of the Task Force on Polio Eradication and said that Pakistan performed “amazingly” in eradicating polio.

PM Imran Khan informed Gates that Afghanistan was the primary source of polio incidence in Pakistan, urging that Kabul required urgent international support to avert the crisis.

“Pakistan provides support to 40 million Afghans in need of basic amenities,” the prime minister told the philanthropist.

During the meeting, Imran Khan also directed deputy commissioners of the areas adjoining Afghanistan borders to remain vigilant against the spread of the poliovirus.

During a separate meeting, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr Sania Nishtar met Bill Gates to brief the latter about the government’s Ehsaas programme. Gates was impressed with the government’s focus on digitisation, data, and transparency as key drivers.

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Gates said Ehsaas was state of the art, end-to-end digitised, and free of exploitation programme.

Nishtar thanked the dignitary for his words about Ehsaas and lauded his support for the initiative.

On another occasion, Gates thanked the Pakistani government for inviting him and extending hospitality on his first-ever visit to the country. He appreciated the efforts of the country’s leadership and health workers for ensuring that polio never paralyses a child again. He lauded the fact that Pakistan completed one year of zero polio incidence.

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