Afghanistan requires int’l support to avert humanitarian crisis: PM

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday expressing Pakistan’s commitment to eradicate polio said that Afghanistan being the primary source of polio incidence in country’s two bordering provinces, required urgent international support to avert humanitarian crisis including health emergency. He said that Pakistan was providing full support for the sake of 40 million Afghan people in need of basic amenities. The Prime Minister told the meeting of National Task Force for Polio Eradication here which was also attended, on his special invitation, by Co-Founder of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates. While welcoming Mr. Gates, on his first ever visit to Pakistan, the Prime Minister thanked the Foundation for its continued support and partnership with the Government of Pakistan in polio eradication. He underlined that the government was fully committed and determined towards polio eradicationThe 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. Bill Gates thanked the Prime Minister 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. Bill Gates said that despite COVID-19 restrictions, 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. The provincial governments apprised the meeting about resources allocated towards polio campaign and expressed full commitment towards making Pakistan polio free. The meeting was attended by Special Assistant to PM (SAPM) Dr. Faisal Sultan, Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shah Farman, Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar, Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mehmood Khan, Prime Minister Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan Niazi, Chief Minister Gilgit Baltistan Khalid Khurshid, Minister for Health Sindh Ms. Azra Fazal Pechuho, Health Minister Balochistan Ehsan Shah, representatives of the international organizations and senior officers. Deputy Commissioners from across Pakistan joined via video link.

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