Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates attends meeting of national task force on polio

The American philanthropist is in Pakistan on his first ever visit

07:52 PM | 17 Feb, 2022
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates attends meeting of national task force on polio

ISLAMABAD – Microsoft cofounder and philanthropist Bill Gates on Thursday attended the meeting of National Task Force for Polio Eradication, on the special invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan. 

Gates arrived in Islamabad earlier today to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan, President Alvi and other senior government functionaries.

Welcoming Mr. Gates, on his first ever visit to Pakistan, PM Imran 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 his government is fully committed and determined towards polio eradication.

Khan 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. "Pakistan is providing full support for the sake of 40 million Afghan people in need of basic amenities."

The Prime Minister 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.

According to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO),  Bill Gates thanked the premier for inviting him and extending warm hospitality on his first ever visit to Pakistan. He highly appreciated the efforts of the leadership, health workers and parents for working tirelessly to ensure that polio never paralyzes a child again.

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, Gates added, 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.

Provincial Governments apprised the meeting about resources allocated towards polio campaign and expressed full commitment towards making Pakistan polio free.

Task Force Meeting was attended by SAPM Dr. Faisal Sultan, Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shah Farman, Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar, Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mehmood Khan, Prime Minister AJ&K Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan Niazi, Chief Minister Gilgit Baltistan Khalid Khurshid, Minister Health Sindh Ms. Azra Fazal Pechuho, Health Minister Balochistan Ehsan Shah, representatives of international organizations and senior officers. Deputy Commissioners from across Pakistan joined via video link.

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan had one-on-one meeting with Mr. Bill Gates. He also hosted a lunch in honour of Bill Gates that was attended by Federal Ministers Shaukat Tarin, Asad Umer, Fawad Ahmed, Khusro Bakhtiar, SAPM Dr. Faisal Sultan, Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Chief Ministers of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and Prime Minister AJ&K.