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November 21, 2019

Winning support for anti-polio fight


November 21, 2019

Islamabad : The Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza met a number of global health leaders including President of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Bill Gates, State Minister of Norway Aksal Jacosen, Director of the Centres for Disease Control Robert Redfield, and President of the MMGF Global Development Programme Dr. Chris Elias at the Reaching the Last Mile (RLM) Forum hosted by the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, in partnership with BMGF.

The Forum brought together more than 250 eminent global leaders and high-level functionaries from across government, private sector, philanthropy and academia to discuss “reaching the last mile” of disease elimination faster.

In his meeting with Bill Gates, Dr. Zafar shared Pakistan’s resolve to bring improvements in polio, routine immunization, nutrition, reproductive health and family planning. Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries where poliovirus circulation continues to cripple children to this day. Bill Gates appreciated Pakistan’s transformational efforts in administrative and operational aspects of the polio eradication programme.

The purpose of Dr. Zafar’s meetings with Aksal Jacosen and Dr. Chris Elias was to increase collaboration in funding and technical assistance, and to solicit the help of global experts for improving health, nutrition and financial inclusion in Pakistan. Interacting with Jacosen, Dr. Zafar highlighted Pakistan’s broader agenda to invest in human capital and emphasized the importance of strengthening bilateral development cooperation.

Dr. Zafar also discussed the broader health agenda with Robert Redfield. He appreciated CDC’s active support in health initiatives in Pakistan, and also shared details of the national action plan on injection safety, the HIV outbreak and the challenges faced by the country. Redfield committed provision of all-out support to control the polio outbreak in Pakistan.

Even when he met Dr. Chris Elias of BMGF, Dr. Zafar expressed fullest commitment to put measures in place to end polio once and for all. Dr. Zafar underlined the need for unification of the programme with EPI to strengthen routine immunization in the country and to ensure polio transition in the longer run. He said 2020 will be a year of transformation for the programme. The President of BMGF appreciated the commitment and added that “this collaboration continues the foundation’s more than decade-long work in Pakistan. Throughout that time, polio—a disease that stands on the brink of eradication across the world – has remained the top priority.”

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