Bill Gates.commends Army's anti-polio efforts.
Bill Gates. - A file photo

Shaheen Afridi

Microsoft founder and co-chair of the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates has assured Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif of his full support in combating the polio virus in the country.

In a telephone call with the premier which took place this Monday, Mr Gates assured him that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will not allow children to be crippled due to the virus and will continue to extend help.

The telephone call took place after a positive polio case was reported from the North Waziristan earlier this month. The positive case was first in Pakistan after a gap of 15 months.

This is third polio case to be reported during this year as African nation of Malawi and Afghanistan have already reported one case each. Pakistan had reported its last case in Qilla Abdullah area of Balcohistan earlier in February last year.

On the hand, Pakistan had reported 84 cases in 2020, 147 cases in 2019 and 12 cases in 2018.

In the phone call, Mr Gates appreciated Pakistan efforts to eliminate the virus.

At this occasion PM Shahbaz also appreciated the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation help in combating the virus and said Pakistani will continue to collaborate with the foundation.

A statement issued from the PM office said that Pakistan has maintained its advance in fighting polio. It also hailed the help from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in this regard.

Earlier PM Sharif had directed the KP Chief Secretary and anti-polio campaign head to take all necessary steps against polio in southern KP.

Dr Sarfarz Afridi, WHO representative in Pakistan said that the polio has turned into the challenge after the detection of this positive case.

He said that this positive case reduced all the efforts they had made to eliminate the virus over the years to zero.

Dr Afridi said that they have been directed to run five special campaign over next three month to control the virus, which will be run after a gap of 10 days.

On the other hand, PM Shahbaz also expressed his satisfaction over launching polio campaign in Afghanistan.

KP Emergency Polio Eradication Center hailed the launch of polio campaigns in both countries at the same time. It said that polio teams have been deputed to the border of both countries and were immunizing the children.

In addition to this, both sides also held an virtual meeting on Thursday to streamline their efforts.

Deputy Coordinator Emergency Operations Center Zameen Khan Mohmand said that Pakistan was taking serious steps to contain the virus.

He said that they had worked very hard to the keep the area clean of polio, which could not materialize unfortunately.

Mr Gates had visited Pakistan earlier in February this year and was awarded with the Hilal–e-Pakistan.

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