PM Shehbaz reaffirms commitment to eradicate polio in meeting with Bill Gates

Billionaire philanthropist emphasises addressing all issues effectively in coming months to maintain positive momentum

APP June 24, 2024
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif met Chairman of Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, in Islamabad on June 24, 2024. PHOTO: Prime Minister's Office


Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, during a meeting with Bill Gates, Chairman of the Gates Foundation, reiterated the federal and provincial governments' unwavering commitment to eradicating polio in Pakistan. 

He assured Gates that the government is dedicated to protecting the lives of children and making them healthier through continued efforts against polio.

Addressing the National Task Force on Polio Eradication on Monday, PM Shehbaz highlighted that the polio eradication campaign in Pakistan was progressing positively.

Despite recent setbacks with the virus re-emerging in certain areas, he emphasised that this did not signify a failure in their efforts.

In response, Bill Gates emphasised the importance of addressing all areas effectively in the coming months to maintain positive momentum. 

He reaffirmed the Gates Foundation's commitment to supporting Pakistan's efforts to eradicate polio and address other health-related issues, including malnutrition and mother and child healthcare. 

Gates stressed the need for dedicated efforts over the next six months to make significant progress and continue successful campaigns to completely eliminate the polio virus from Pakistan.

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PM Shehbaz outlined that over the past six months, two nationwide polio eradication campaigns were successfully conducted, along with five additional campaigns targeting polio-affected areas.

He stressed the need for swift action in the coming days and months to produce tangible results. He assured that all newly formed federal and provincial governments were resolved to leave no stone unturned in combating the polio menace.

He also shared details of a holistic security conference held recently, where discussions focused on countering terrorism and other security issues. 

Recalling his meeting with Gates in Riyadh during the World Economic Forum (WEF) in April, he said they had comprehensive discussions on polio eradication and other health-related issues in Pakistan.

PM Shehbaz lauded the Gates Foundation's efforts and financial contributions to polio eradication campaigns and other humanitarian causes.

He noted that Pakistan had significantly benefited from the Foundation's support in tackling malnutrition and mother and child healthcare issues.

He further highlighted the consistent support from the Foundation, amounting to millions of dollars over the years, and shared investment figures for the polio eradication program with $240 million in 2022, $263 million in 2023, and $297 million in 2024.

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Furthermore, PM Shehbaz recalled that during the WEF, Saudi Arabia pledged $500 million over the next five years to support polio eradication.

He also mentioned other areas of cooperation between Pakistan and the Gates Foundation, including the digitisation of education and health sectors, and expressed gratitude for the Foundation's support in digitising the Federal Board of Revenue.

PM Shehbaz emphasised the potential economic benefits of the digitalization process and expressed his intention to seek Bill Gates' advice on education and health sectors. 

He reassured that the government would utilise all resources for polio eradication, holding regular meetings with provincial governments and stakeholders.

Welcoming Bill Gates and his team to Pakistan earlier, the PM expressed appreciation on behalf of the people, the government, and provincial authorities. 


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