In phone conversation, Khan and Gates voice concern over health situation in Afghanistan and stress importance of resuming polio campaigns in war-torn state
Pakistan remains committed to eradicating polio, Prime Minister Imran Khan told Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, on Tuesday, and appreciated the foundation’s “invaluable” assistance toward this goal.
According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, Gates called Khan to discuss ongoing polio eradication efforts and reiterated his foundation’s support to improve nutrition as well as financial services in Pakistan. Noting that Pakistan had, thus far this year, only reported one case of wild poliovirus, the prime minister said that the presence of the wild poliovirus in environmental samples had also witnessed a substantial decrease.
Gates, read the statement, praised the prime minister for the progress in eradicating polio, and pledged his foundation’s continued support to ensure no Pakistani child remained at risk of contracting the poliovirus. Specifically, Gates noted, the positive impact of the prime minister’s leadership in convening a meeting of deputy commissioners in high-risk polio districts in August.
“Both the prime minister and Gates expressed concern regarding the health system in Afghanistan, the only other country in the world that is polio endemic along with Pakistan,” read the statement. It said that they had discussed the importance of resuming polio vaccination campaigns in Afghanistan to both curb the disease’s spread and protect Pakistan’s recent gains toward ending polio.
“The prime minister highlighted that more than half the population of Afghanistan was living below the poverty line and in dire need of financial assistance,” said the Prime Minister’s Office. “He requested Gates to consider providing humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people,” it added.
During their conversation, Gates also congratulated the prime minister for Pakistan’s COVID-19 vaccination drive, and pledged his foundation’s continued support of government-led welfare programs, such as the Ehsaas initiative and digitization of National Savings Program through Karandaaz.
“Gates offered continued collaboration through the Gates Foundation to improve the health and well-being of Pakistanis,” read the statement, adding that the prime minister had reiterated his thanks to Gates for his foundation’s valuable partnership with Pakistan.