PM expresses resolve for polio-free Pakistan; lauds Gates Foundation’s dedication

Islamabad: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Monday reiterated that the federal government along with all the provincial governments resolved to eliminate the menace of Polio forever and said that they were fully committed to control its spread through collective efforts.

Addressing a meeting of the National Task Force on Polio Eradication, the prime minister said that the polio eradication campaign in the country was progressing positively and they were close to eliminate polio but unfortunately, things turned negative as the virus returned back in certain parts of Pakistan, still it did not show that they had failed in their efforts.

Chairman Gates Foundation Bill Gates, ministers, senior officials and relevant authorities were present during the meeting.

The prime minister assured Bill Gates that the government was fully committed ‘to continue its efforts in our own interests to protect lives of our children and make them healthier.’

He said that during the last six months, they ran two nation-wide polio eradication campaigns successfully along with five others targeting the polio hit areas.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also stressed that they would have to act swiftly to produce results in the coming days and months.

All the newly formed federal and provincial governments had completely resolved that they would spare no efforts to control this menace, he added.

The prime minister told Bill Gates that they held a holistic security conference the other day and held lengthy discussions to counter surge of terrorism and other relevant security issues.

Recalling his meeting with Bill Gates in Riyadh on the sidelines of World Economic Forum (WEF), the prime minister said that they had held comprehensive discussions on polio eradication and health related issues of Pakistan.

Lauding Foundation’s efforts and donations for the polio eradication campaigns and for lifting of sufferings of humanity, he said that Pakistan had been a beneficiary of Foundation’s financial support over malnutrition and mother and child healthcare issues.

In polio eradication campaigns, Gates’ cooperation and support had been consistent in the last many years to the tunes of millions of dollars, he added.

The prime minister said that investment in polio eradication programme in Pakistan had been significant as during the year 2022 it stood at $240 millions, in 2023, $263 millions and in 2024, $297 millions.

The prime minister further informed that during the WEF, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also pledged $500 million dollars for the next five years.

He said that there were other areas of cooperation between Pakistan and Foundation including the digitization of education and health sectors, expressing gratitude to Bill Gates for support over digitization of FBR.

The prime minister said that they would like to seek Gates’ advice on education and health sectors also.

He viewed digitalization process to ensure huge dividends to Pakistan’s economy.

He also reassured that the government would utilize all its resources for polio eradication and he would hold regular meetings with the provincial governments and all the stakeholders in this regard.

The prime minister also welcomed Bill Gates and his team to visit Pakistan on behalf of the people, the government and the provincial authorities.

Speaking on the occasion, Chairman Gates Foundation, Bill Gates said that they had to address all the areas in a better way in the next few months to keep up the positive momentum.

He said that they were committed to Pakistan in its efforts to eradicate polio and address other health related issues including malnutrition and mother and child healthcare.

Gates underlined that they should dedicate themselves to eradicate polio by making progress in the next six months and should continue their successful efforts in the next few years to completely efface polio virus from the country.