“Pakistan’s commitment to ending polio is inspiring,” Gates said in a statement released by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates is no stranger to the country, where his foundation helped nearly eradicate the disease.
“Government leaders, health workers and parents are working tirelessly to ensure that this disease never paralyzes a child again. This is the final and toughest phase of the eradication effort, but by maintaining momentum and staying vigilant, Pakistan has an opportunity to make history by ending polio for good. said Gates.
The statement quoted Khan thanking Gates and saying polio eradication is a “top priority” for the government, which is working “at all levels to ensure that every child is protected with the polio vaccine”.
Earlier, Gates visited the National Command Operations Center (NCOC), the body that has overseen Pakistan’s response to the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, where he received a detailed briefing on Pakistan’s vaccination campaign.
The NCOC said in a statement that Gates recognizes Pakistan’s success against COVID-19 despite its limited resources, as coronavirus deaths continue to steadily decline in the country.
Pakistan has recorded some 3,000 COVID-19 cases and 40 deaths in the past 24 hours, up from nearly 8,000 daily cases and around 50 deaths just a few weeks ago. Since the start of the pandemic, Pakistan has recorded 1,494,293 cases, including 29,917 deaths.
Cabinet Minister Faisal Javed Khan congratulated Gates on the award on Twitter, calling it a “well-deserved honour” for his “valuable, outstanding and extraordinary service in the fight against poverty, disease and inequality in the world” .
Last year, the country reported just one case of polio, in its remote southwestern province of Balochistan. Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world where poliomyelitis remains endemic. The disease can cause partial paralysis in children.