Co-chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Mr. Bill Gates held a meeting with Pakistan Federal Health Minister Saira Afzal Tarar in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday to discuss partnership of his foundation with the Government of Pakistan in the health sector.
A wide range of areas in health sector were discussed including Pakistan’s progress in Polio Eradication, mother and child health and innovations in health-care.
Bill Gates lauded the leadership of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for his personal attention and oversight in making the polio eradication effort successful. He expressed appreciation for the role Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar was playing in steering the polio effort and introducing major reforms in the health sector.
Bill Gates while expressing commitment to continue supporting polio effort, offered support to Pakistan in the area of innovations in health and strengthening mother and child care and reproductive health.
Both sides nominated focal persons to carry forward the collaboration and finalize details. Dr. Hassan was nominated from Bill and Melina Gates Foundation whereas Dr. Assad Hafeez Director General Health was nominated as focal person from Ministry of National Health Services.
Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar informed Bill Gates that Pakistan is monitoring heightened vigilance with the aim of simultaneously raising performance across the current hotspots where the virus is still circulating.
She said under our new Prime Minister, the National Task Force in August reaffirmed Polio eradication as high national priority. The commitment of provincial governments has given us a strong start to the low season with quality national and sub-national campaigns in September and October respectively.
Our frontline workers are the backbone of our programme and supporting them on ground remains our key priority. Our armed forces continue to provide a safe and supportive environment for the conduct of campaigns, added the Minister.
The Minister emphasized that polio eradication in Pakistan enjoys broad based political support and is seen as a national imperative. This ensures sustainability of the initiative and this program will continue through any political shifts or changes with a strong administrative base which is already supporting the programme.