PM talks to Gates, emphasises resumption of anti-polio drive


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday spoke to Bill Gates, the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to discuss the latest situation on Covid-19 response and resumption of polio vaccination campaigns in Pakistan, said an official announcement by the PM Office.

During the conversation, the prime minister apprised Mr Gates of the improved Covid-19 situation in Pakistan with considerable reduction in new cases and the fatality rate.

Mr Khan said the “smart lockdown” policy of the government had been very effective. The timely and prudent interventions enabled the government to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 and the economy had successfully averted a larger catastrophe, he said, acknowledging the Gates Foundation’s continued support for Pakistan. PM Khan reaffirmed polio eradication as a key priority of his government.

Both Mr Khan and Mr Gates said they were encouraged to see that polio vaccination campaigns had been able to restart with appropriate Covid-19 precautions. They agreed to enhance the programme to ensure vaccination of all children, including those in the remote areas.

They discussed how using the existing structures that were supporting efforts against Covid-19, such as the National Command Operation Centre, could help support polio eradication efforts.

The prime minister expressed confidence in Pakistan’s ability to apply lessons from its Covid-19 response to eradicate polio.

Mr Gates acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts to combat the pandemic while protecting the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable populations.