ISLAMABAD: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has reaffirmed support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for polio eradication efforts in Pakistan, in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The billionaire philanthropist, in the letter dated August 16, 2019, pledged to continue working with the relevant authorities in Pakistan to eradicate the polio virus from the country.
“Currently, I’m concerned with the polio situation in Pakistan… Large numbers of children in key reservoirs continue to be missed during polio campaigns, in large part due to sub-optimal management and increased community resistance to vaccination – all of which is allowing the virus to build and continue circulating,” Gates wrote.
“At the request of the National Emergency Operations Centre, the foundation’s polio team provided support to an independent management review of Pakistan’s polio program in the high priority districts and those contributing to polio transmission, starting in Karachi, Rawalpindi, and Peshawar. Our team is working with the independent management review team and the NEOC to finalise recommendations and develop an implementation plan slated to start before the low season campaigns in November,” the letter added.
The Microsoft co-founder asked for support from all levels of the Pakistani government, and requested Prime Minister Imran to endorse the recommendations and implementation plan prepared by the management’s review.
Gates further said his team plans to establish a Program Delivery Unit to help implement the Ehsaas Program’s financial inclusion, nutrition, and other development objectives.
Prime Minister Imran earlier in the day chaired an emergency meeting on the polio crisis in the country. The prime minister’s focal person on polio Babar Atta briefed the meeting, which was also attended by the chief minister, chief secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, federal ministers and heads of global institutions.
Polio, a disease transmitted through sewage which can cause crippling paralysis particularly in young children, is incurable and remains a threat to human health as long as it has not been eradicated. Immunization campaigns have succeeded in most countries and have come close in Pakistan, but persistent problems remain.