Here’s what Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates is doing in Pakistan, South Asia
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates met with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday (February 17) during his first-ever visit to the South Asian country.
Pakistan’s prime minister’s office said the Microsoft co-founder was visiting the country at the prime minister’s “special invitation” as Khan hosted Gates over lunch.
“It was a pleasure to welcome @BillGates who came to Pakistan on my invitation. Apart from his many achievements, he is admired worldwide for his philanthropy,” tweeted cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan.
“On behalf of our nation, I thank him for his immense contribution to polio eradication and poverty reduction initiatives,” he added.
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Pakistan and Afghanistan are countries in the world where poliomyelitis continues to circulate. Bill Gates met with Khan to discuss polio eradication in one of the world’s last two countries where the virus is endemic.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a major project between governments and international organizations.
Health and humanitarian aid officials say Pakistan’s attempts to eradicate polio are at a promising but sensitive stage. No child has been paralyzed by wild polio in Pakistan for over a year.
However, according to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the virus was detected in December in sewage samples from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
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During his visit, Gates also met with the country’s National COVID-19 Command and Operations Center, which is leading the country’s response to the pandemic.
Pakistani Senator Faisal Javed Khan said Gates “greatly appreciates the measures [regarding polio eradication] in Pakistan, the performance of the National Command and Operations Center (NCOC) in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic and initiatives such as the Ehsaas programme.” He shared photos of the meeting on Twitter.
Gates was also awarded the nation’s second-highest civilian honor by the nation’s president.
(With agency contributions)