ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair Bill Gates explored on Monday improvement in the availability of digital financial services to the poor.
The foundation's key partnerships in Pakistan, including the polio eradication programme and routine immunisation, among other matters of mutual interest were also discussed in a meeting held at the Gates Foundation Headquarters in Seattle.
Pakistan is a leader in South Asia in using mobile money accounts. The Gates Foundation is supporting the expansion of this work through its local partner Karandaaz.
“This involves assisting the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) chaired by Dr Nishtar to explore upcoming opportunities in the digital financial services space to further support the needs of low-income communities,” said an official communique.
“This would focus largely on health, education and livelihood challenges faced by BISP beneficiaries.”
The Gates Foundation is a major supporter of global health and development around the world. In Pakistan, much of the foundation’s work to-date has been focused on eradicating polio, introducing new vaccines and immunisation strengthening.
Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries that are still reporting cases of the deadly wild polio virus.
Dr Nishtar and Gates also discussed innovative ways of addressing stunting and malnutrition in young children which is a high priority area for the government.
The foundation will share research and best practices with the Pakistan government to support the prime minister’s multi-sectoral nutrition initiative being implemented under the “Ehsaas” poverty alleviation programme.