Bill Gates meets PM Imran Khan during his first-ever Pakistan visit to discuss polio-eradication

Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, met with Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday during his first-ever Pakistan visit and discussed polio eradication and other issues.

According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, Bill Gates met with senior government officials during his day-long first-ever Pakistan visit, including a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan. The Microsoft co-founder attended a meeting of the National Task Force on Polio Eradication, where he noted that despite COVID-19 restrictions, Pakistan has performed “amazingly” in eradicating poliovirus.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan thanked the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its ongoing support and collaboration with the Government of Pakistan in the fight against polio. Prime Minister Imran Khan stated that Afghanistan, as the primary source of polio in Pakistan’s two bordering provinces, requires immediate international assistance to avert a humanitarian crisis.

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“Pakistan is providing full support for the sake of 40 million Afghans in need of necessities,” the prime minister told the philanthropist. During the meeting, the prime minister also directed deputy commissioners of districts bordering Afghanistan, particularly the southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to remain vigilant and proactive in the face of poliovirus contamination.

“The task force paid tribute to the 36 frontline workers and 14 law enforcement personnel who died while providing polio vaccinations to children across the country,” the PM Office said in a statement. During Gates’s first-ever official visit to Pakistan, he also met with the country’s COVID-19 National Command and Operation Centre.

Pakistan President Arif Alvi conferred the award of Hilal-e-Pakistan on Gates, the country’s second-highest civilian award at an investiture ceremony.