Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar has assured Bill Gates, who is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), of delivering on the promise of a healthier Pakistan.
The prime minister received a telephone call with Gates to discuss progress in the ongoing efforts to eradicate polio from Pakistan, according to a statement shared by the PTV News on X on Tuesday. The PM is currently on an official visit to the United Arab Emirates.
The BMGF is the major supporter of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. It has been implementing and funding national emergency plans in Pakistan that are overseen by respective heads of state and are helping to increase accountability and quality of polio vaccination campaigns.
The interim PM and Gates followed up on their discussion in New York when they met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in September. Kakar appreciated the Gates Foundation’s support for the government’s efforts to secure a polio-free Pakistan.
He reaffirmed Pakistan’s unwavering commitment to rid the country of the debilitating virus. In this regard, the prime minister briefed Gates on the polio vaccination drive currently in progress across Pakistan.
The issues of malnutrition and maternal health also came under discussion.
PM Kakar expressed satisfaction with the cooperation between the government and the BMGF. He assured Gates that the government was “fully committed to delivering on the promise of a healthier, safer, and financially inclusive Pakistan and counted on reliable partners such as BMGF in this endeavour.”
At least five cases of polio – two from Sindh and three from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – have so far been reported this year, according to the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme.
On Monday, a countrywide anti-polio campaign of varied durations to administer vaccination drops to children less than five years of age started.
In Punjab, anti-polio teams have been constituted to administer the vaccine to 22 million children. In Sindh, more than 80,000 polio workers will go door to door to administer anti-polio drops to over 10 million children.
Likewise, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, over 7.4 million children would be administered vaccination drops. In Balochistan, over 2.5 million children would be administered anti-polio drops.