PM asks Bill Gates to consider humanitarian assistance for Afghans

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan in a telephone call with Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF),  urged him to consider providing humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.

During the telephonic conversation, held on October 5, the premier stated that more than half of the population in Afghanistan was living below the poverty line and in dire need of financial assistance.

According to a press release, both also discussed the importance of polio campaigns resuming in Afghanistan to stop the disease and protect Pakistan’s recent gains towards ending polio.

They also expressed concern regarding the health system in Afghanistan, the only other country in the world that is polio-endemic along with Pakistan, the communique added.

PM Imran also discussed polio eradication efforts and the BMGF support towards improving nutrition as well as financial services in Pakistan with Gates.

The premier apprised Bill Gates on Pakistan’s continued progress against polio eradication and appreciated the invaluable assistance provided by the BMGF in that regard.

“The country has reported only one case of wild poliovirus (WPV) this year and positive WPV environmental samples have decreased substantially,” the press release quoted PM Imran as saying.

Furthermore, the premier emphasised that while the progress was positive, the work was still ongoing. He stressed that the federal government remained committed to ending all forms of polio in the country.

The press release added that Gates praised PM Imran on the progress, and pledged his organisation’s continued support to the Pakistan polio programme for ensuring that no child in Pakistan was at risk of paralysis due to poliovirus.

Regarding Covid-19, Gates congratulated the prime minister on Pakistan’s Covid-19 vaccine roll-out and noted the foundation’s continued support of government-led programmes, including Ehsaas which is making impressive progress in reducing stunting, and the digitisation of the National Savings Program through Karandaaz.

He also offered continued collaboration through the Gates Foundation to improve the health and well-being of Pakistanis.