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Tuesday, October 03, 2023  
16 Rabi ul Awal 1445  

Bill Gates meets PM Imran, NCOC team in first visit to Pakistan

The prime minister in honour of the philanthropist held a luncheon
Earlier, in the day NCOC chief Asad Umar hosted Gates and shared with him the work Pakistan has done in response to Covid pandemic in the country. @PakPMO
Earlier, in the day NCOC chief Asad Umar hosted Gates and shared with him the work Pakistan has done in response to Covid pandemic in the country. @PakPMO

In his first visit to Pakistan on Thursday, philanthropist William Henry Gates III, better known as Bill Gates, met Prime Minister Imran Khan and the National Command and Operation Centre team headed by federal minister Asad Umar.

Senator Faisal Javed Khan shared pictures of the meeting in a tweet and said: "The two leaders discussed "polio eradication, performance of National Command and Operation Centre and Ehsaas programme".

In a special ceremony held in Islamabad, President Dr Arif Alvi conferred Hilal-e-Pakistan award, Pakistan's second highest civil award, to Gates in recognition for his services for the betterment of people of Pakistan.

Gates is visiting Pakistan for one-day at the special invitation of the premier, who also held a luncheon for the philanthropist, photos of which his office shared on Twitter.

Earlier, in the day NCOC chief Asad Umar hosted Gates and apprised him of the work NCOC has done in response to the Covid pandemic. Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan also attended the meeting.

Following the meeting, the NCOC issued a statement, saying the Microsoft founder 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 pandemic, the coronavirus situation in Pakistan as well as the non-pharmaceutical interventions by the forum to control the spread of the disease," quoted the statement in a Dawn report.

It added Gates and his delegation were also told about genome sequencing and coronavirus variants detected in the country.

"Gates took keen interest on various initiatives by NCOC, particularly smart lockdown and micro-smart lockdown strategy enforcement measures and Pakistan's vaccine administration regime which enabled NCOC to formulate and implement a comprehensive Covid response," read the statement.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation chairperson also shared his views on the pandemic, especially the vaccination drive.

He appreciated Pakistan's dealing against Covid despite constraint resources. The forum in the statement said the philanthropist lauded the country for introducing excellent initiatives and measures for public health safety.

In a separate tweet, Dr Sultan expressed pleasure to welcome Bill Gates on his first ever visit to Pakistan.

The premier and the renowned philanthropist has held telephonic conversations in the past and discussed various issues and their possible solutions. In an earlier conversation, the prime minister urged Gates to consider providing humanitarian assistance to poverty-stricken people in Afghanistan.

The two men discussed polio situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan with the prime minister appreciating the assistance provided by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's efforts to eradicate the disease. The prime minister apprised Gates that Pakistan reported only one case of poliovirus in 2021 and reaffirmed the federal government's commitment to end all forms of polio in Pakistan.

The Microsoft co-founder pledged his foundation's continued support to the country's polio programme.

In a telephone conversation between the two last year, the men discussed matters relating to the Covid response, polio eradication and climate change, and agreed to continue working together on the shared objectives.

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