In a phone conversation with Bill Gates, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif reiterates Pakistan’s commitment to polio eradication.
Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has reaffirmed the government’s commitment to eliminating all forms of polio in the country.
Polio is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that enters the central nervous system and damages spinal cord and brain cells. The disease is often fatal, leaving those who survive paralyzed or with atrophied and twisted limbs.
PM Shehbaz reaffirmed his commitment over the phone with Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). According to the PM Office, the two discussed ongoing public health and social sector programmes in Pakistan supported by the BMGF.
poliomyelitis primarily affects children under the age of five, but it can affect anyone who has not been immunized.
Although Malawi and Mozambique detected imported wild polio cases in 2022, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries where the wild poliovirus remains endemic.
While expressing concern about new polio cases reported in 2022 after a year without any, the prime minister noted that there had been a pause in polio cases since September 2022.
In light of the recent flooding, which hampered ongoing polio vaccination efforts due to large-scale displacements and the destruction of healthcare infrastructure, the prime minister reaffirmed that the government was actively implementing the special emergency response plan and would continue to adapt and find ways to reach out to children in these trying times.
He also praised the BMGF for its valuable assistance to Pakistan in polio eradication, immunization, nutrition, and financial inclusion.
The prime minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s desire to deepen its fruitful partnership with the Foundation in all areas of ongoing cooperation.
Gates expressed deep sorrow over the recent flooding in Pakistan.
He also praised Pakistan’s efforts to eradicate polio and reaffirmed his Foundation’s commitment to ensuring that no child suffers paralysis as a result of poliomyelitis.
Various other government-led programmes supported by the BMGF were also discussed, including those addressing malnutrition and stunting, essential immunization services, the RAAST micropayment gateway, and the digitization of the National Savings Programme.
The prime minister and Gates agreed to continue working together on shared goals and areas of mutual cooperation.
In October, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $1.2 billion to eradicate polio at a summit in Berlin attended by health experts from around the world.
“Polio eradication is within reach. However, despite our progress, the disease remains a threat “Bill Gates said in a statement released on the occasion.
The money had to go to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a public-private partnership led by national governments that aims to eradicate the disease by 2026.