Saturday, February 4, 2023

Bill Gates meets PM Imran Khan during first visit to Pakistan

Gates appreciated Pakistan’s success against COVID-19 despite resource constraints

Bill Gates, the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, held a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday during his first-ever visit to Pakistan.

The government officials said Bills Gates greatly appreciated steps Pakistan has taken to eradicate polio, National Command and Operation Centre’s (NCOC) performance in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and initiatives such as the Ehsaas programme.

Progress on polio

Bill Gates discussed the country’s progress in the effort to stop poliovirus transmission with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and other leaders in Islamabad.

“Pakistan’s commitment to ending polio is inspiring,” said Bill Gates. “Government leaders, health workers, and parents are working tirelessly to ensure this disease never paralyzes a child again. This is the final, and hardest, phase of the eradication effort, but by keeping up the momentum and staying vigilant, Pakistan has an opportunity to make history by ending polio for good.”

Polio eradication is a top priority for our government,” said Prime Minister Khan. “We are working at all levels to ensure that every child is protected with the polio vaccine and are grateful for the continued partnership and support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and our other polio partners. We have a clear plan to stop this virus, and I am committed to seeing it implemented in full so that Pakistan can help secure a polio-free world.”

NCOC visit

Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Gates also met Planning and Development Minister and NCOC chief Asad Umar and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan.

The philanthropist also attended the forum’s morning session. During his visit, Gates was informed about the NCOC’s role and methodology, its achievements since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the coronavirus situation in Pakistan as well as the non-pharmaceutical interventions by the forum to control the spread of the disease.

“A comprehensive review of Pakistan’s efforts against COVID-19 was presented to visiting delegation. The visiting delegation was also briefed on genome sequencing (prevalence of various variants in the country),” according to the official statement by PMO.

The NCOC has led the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, relying on resources and lessons learned from the polio program to coordinate the country’s response, including data analysis, vaccine campaign planning, and community engagement.

During the visit, Umar acknowledged the efforts of Gates and his foundation to support COVID-19 initiatives in Pakistan. Gates appreciated Pakistan’s success against COVID-19 despite resource constraints and introducing excellent initiatives and measures for public health safety.

While in Pakistan, Gates also met with Senator Sania Nishtar, special assistant on poverty alleviation and social safety to Prime Minister Khan, to discuss progress on Pakistan’s flagship poverty alleviation program, Ehsaas.

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