PM, Bill Gates discuss virus, polio combat

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By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and discussed the latest developments surrounding the COVID-19 response.
During the conversation, the Prime Minister expressed appreciation for the support provided by the Gates Foundation and other international partners during this unprecedented crisis and emphasized the continued urgency of the situation.
Prime Minister Imran Khan stated that Pakistan was making all efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic with a robust and coordinated response. He emphasized that Pakistan was facing a dual challenge of overcoming the pandemic and saving people, particularly the most vulnerable segments of the population, from hunger due to lockdown.
He underlined that the government had put together a US$ 8 billion package to support the affected people and businesses. Steps taken by the government have helped in containing the spread of Coronavirus in Pakistan.
The Prime Minister’s call for “Global Initiative on Debt Relief” for the developing countries is in the same context. Mr. Gates mentioned how COVID-19 was a threat across the world. He commended Pakistan’s efforts in protecting the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable populations.
Prime Minister Imran Khan and Bill Gates also discussed their shared priority of polio eradication. They discussed the important role that Pakistan’s polio staff and infrastructure are playing in the fight against COVID-19.
The polio teams are supporting the training of frontline polio health workers on COVID-19, and using contact tracing, testing and communications methods to curb transmission. In the context of the Pandemic, they also discussed, that routine immunization programs for children especially polio vaccination cannot be ignored, as well as, the need for capacity enhancement of the National Institute of Health.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday made a telephone call to Microsoft Founder and Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates, during which a discussion on situation arising out of the coronavirus outbreak was held, media reported.
During the telephonic conversation, PM Imran Khan lauded the support provided by the Gates Foundation and other international partners to curb the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
He said that Pakistan is facing the dual challenge of overcoming coronavirus pandemic and saving the people from hunger.
PM Imran apprised Bill Gates that his government had launched a relief package worth $8 billion to mitigate the sufferings of people amid coronavirus lockdown.
He said that the timely steps taken by the government helped contain the spread of the virus in the country.
Earlier on April 24, reiterating his stance on the coronavirus lockdown, Prime Minister Imran Khan had stressed that the country will have to return to normalcy while pushing ahead with its fight against the pandemic. He commended Pakistan’s efforts in protecting the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable populations.
Speaking to a group of YouTube vloggers, who had called on him, he said he could not say anything about when the country would get rid of the virus.
The prime minister had said Pakistan had not yet received any aid from the international community for its fight against the coronavirus that posed a huge challenge to the country.