Pakistan calls Bill Gates — Analysis

A new PM assured a billionaire Islamabad will eradicate polio in the wake of his first case.

Pakistan’s newly elected prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, has assured billionaire vaccine promoter Bill Gates that his country is committed to fully eradicating polio and will continue working with the Microsoft co-founder’s foundation on public health initiatives.

Sharif talked to Gates via telephone Tuesday and stated that his government was determined to eliminate all forms of Polio. The software magnate reiterated that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) will continue helping Pakistan’s government to help ensure that no child is at risk of being paralyzed by polio.

The country had gone more than a year without a single new polio case – a feat that Gates hailed after traveling to Islamabad to meet with former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in February – but officials this month confirmed the first new infection in 15 months after a boy was paralyzed by the virus in North Waziristan district.

Sharif and Gates spoke about topics such as improving vaccination rates in Pakistan, providing better nutrition for the poor and other issues. “financial inclusion services.” They also discussed the country’s Covid-19 vaccination drive, and the PM called for resuming inoculations against polio in neighboring Afghanistan.

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Pakistan’s parliament elected Sharif as prime minister earlier this month, after Khan was ousted in a no-confidence motion. Khan claimed his cabinet had been overthrown by the US in a conspiracy and Pakistan was being given to an accomplice. “imported government led by crooks.”

Pakistan’s struggle to protect its children from polio has been difficult partly due to claims that the vaccination campaign in Pakistan was part of a Western plot to sterilize them. To disrupt vaccination drives, militants have attacked public health personnel and police officers protecting them. One month ago, a woman who administered polio shots to children in northern Pakistan was gunned down. 

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