Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Bill Gates on Monday appreciated the Pakistan Army for supporting national polio drive and ensuring proper reach and coverage of polio campaigns, particularly through involvement of community leaders, the military said in a statement.
According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Gates expressed these remarks during a telephone conversation with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
The statement said that matters related to healthcare particularly Pakistan’s commitment for comprehensive polio eradication were discussed.
“Mr Gates appreciated Pakistan’s Army for supporting national polio drive and ensuring proper reach and coverage of polio campaigns, particularly through involvement of community leaders,” ISPR added.
COAS appreciated Microsoft founder and his foundation’s efforts towards this noble cause and assured him of continued full cooperation for polio-free Pakistan, it added.
In April, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also spoke with Bill Gates and reiterated the government’s commitment to eradicate polio from the country.
During the telephonic conversation, the ongoing public health and social sector programmes supported by BMGF in Pakistan were discussed, including polio eradication and the foundation’s support towards improving immunisation, nutrition and financial inclusion services in Pakistan.
The prime minister underscored that Pakistan deeply valued its cooperation with BMGF. He reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to further solidifying its fruitful partnership with the foundation in all prevailing areas of work.
Pakistan has maintained progress towards polio eradication and appreciated the invaluable assistance provided by BMGF in that regard, he added.
Bill Gates acknowledged the positive progress and reiterated the foundation’s continued support to Pakistan for ensuring that no child was at risk of paralysis due to poliovirus.
Pakistan’s 12th case of wild poliovirus was reported in North Waziristan last month, after a 21-month old boy was confirmed to have contracted the ailment.
All 12 polio cases have been reported from North Waziristan this year.
The child, hailing from the Mir Ali district, had an onset of paralysis on June 18. The Pakistan National Polio Laboratory at the National Institute of Health, Islamabad has confirmed.
According to preliminary investigations, the child has been paralyzed in the right leg.
The southern districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, namely North and South Waziristan, DI Khan, Bannu, Tank and Lakki Marwat are at the highest risk of wild poliovirus transmission.