ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif and Chair of Gates Foundation Bill Gates on Monday agreed to continue working together to not only eradicate polio, but also to strengthen health systems across the provinces, and to ensure prosperity for all Pakistanis, especially women and girls.

During a meeting at the PM House, the prime minister reiterated the firm commitment to eradicating polio as it remained the highest priority for the government and emphasized that all resources of the state would be employed to provide security to the polio workers.

“I will personally monitor national efforts until the crippling disease is wiped-out from our soil.”

Bill Gates visited Pakistan at the invitation of the prime minister which he extended during his meeting with him in Riyadh on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum.

Welcoming Mr Gates on his visit to Pakistan, the prime minister updated him about the government’s efforts to achieve economic stability and key advances in digital financial services, increased health coverage, climate change adaptation and efforts to eradicate polio.

The prime minister deeply appreciated the Gates Foundation’s valuable support for the government’s initiatives to digitize the economy.

A digitized eco-system of the entire government structure would result in enhanced revenues that would help improve governance and the government would be able to spend more on public welfare schemes, he added.

PM Shehbaz underlined that both the Government of Pakistan and Gates Foundation shared many goals including closing the gender gap, increasing health coverage, improving food security, climate change adaptation, and financial inclusion. He updated Bill Gates about key metrics of the progress made and the challenges faced in these areas.

Thanking the Gates Foundation for being the largest donor for the polio eradication programme, the prime minister outlined a robust and focused strategy to counter threats of increased wild poliovirus infections and the actions needed to overcome the challenge to completely wipe out the disease in Pakistan.

Bill Gates thanked the prime minister for his continued dedication and personal interest in eradicating wild polio from the country. He also expressed his confidence that with a sustained vaccination campaign and firm commitment of the government, polio eradication drive would get back on track to end polio following the recent surge in environmental detections.

Bill Gates also underscored how Pakistan’s deployment of data science tools and digital technology were important resources to continue to improve the lives of Pakistanis across the country.



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