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Pakistan’s commitment to ending polio is inspiring: Bill Gates

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: On the special invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Co-Founder of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates attended the meeting of National Task Force for Polio Eradication in Islamabad on Thursday.

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While welcoming Bill Gates on his first ever visit to Pakistan, the prime minister thanked the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its continued support and partnership with the government of Pakistan in Polio eradication.

The prime minister underlined that the government is fully committed and determined towards polio eradication.

The prime minister said that Afghanistan being the primary source of Polio incidence in our two bordering provinces, requires urgent international support to avert humanitarian crisis including health emergency. He said that Pakistan is providing full support for the sake of 40 million Afghan people in need of basic amenities.

Prime Minister Imran Khan directed Deputy Commissioners of the districts adjoining Afghanistan borders particularly Southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to remain vigilant and proactive against contamination of polio virus.

The Co-Founder of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan for inviting him and extending warm hospitality on his first ever visit to Pakistan.

Bill Gates highly appreciated the efforts of the leadership, health workers and parents for working tirelessly to ensure that polio never paralyzes a child again. He said that said that despite COVID-19 restrictions, Pakistan has performed amazingly and has continued with polio vaccinations.

The National Task Force on Polio Eradication paid tributes to the 36 frontline workers and 14 law enforcement personnel who lost their lives during polio vaccination to the children across the Country.

Earlier, the Task Force was briefed that Pakistan has completed one year of zero polio incidence. However, the virus has been detected in environmental samples in southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan province.

It was apprised that national level Polio vaccination campaigns have been launched in December 2021 and January 2022 with the integration of routine immunizations for children. There is effective coordination among Federal and Provincial Governments with support from Law enforcements agencies for provision of security in risk areas.

The provincial governments apprised the meeting about resources allocated towards polio campaign and expressed full commitment towards making Pakistan polio free.

The Task Force Meeting was  also attended by the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on National Health Services Dr. Faisal Sultan, the Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shah Farman, the Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar, the Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mehmood Khan, the Prime Minister AJK Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan Niazi, the Chief Minister Gilgit Baltistan Khalid Khurshid, the Minister Health Sindh Azra Fazal Pechuho, the Health Minister Balochistan Ehsan Shah, representatives of international organizations and senior officers.

The Deputy Commissioners from across Pakistan joined via video link.

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan had one-on-one meeting with Bill Gates.

Prime Minister Imran Khan also hosted a lunch in honor of Gill Gates that was attended by the Federal Ministers including Shaukat Tarin, Asad Umer, Fawad Ahmed, Khusro Bakhtiar as well as Dr. Faisal Sultan, Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Chief Ministers of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and Prime Minister AJK.

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