Billionaire philanthropist and Bill Gates on his first-ever visit to Pakistan on Thursday called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and was briefed about efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and eradicate poliovirus from the country. Gates also exchanged views on the prevailing situation of COVID-19, state-run Radio Pakistan reported. Khan also hosted a luncheon in honour of Gates who is here on a day-long visit.
Gates attended a session of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), the top anti-coronavirus body and also met Planning Minister and NCOC Chief Asad Umar. According to a statement by the NCOC, the Microsoft founder was informed about the NCOC performance, the coronavirus situation in the country and the systematic efforts to control it through the non-pharmaceutical interventions.
He was also briefed about genome sequencing and coronavirus variants detected in Pakistan, the statement added. ”Gates appreciated Pakistan’s success against COVID-19 despite resource constraints and introducing excellent initiatives and measures for public health safety,” according to the statement.
Gates also talked about the pandemic and efforts to tackle it through vaccination. He took interest in various initiatives by the NCOC, particularly smart lockdown and micro-smart lockdown strategy enforcement measures and Pakistan’s vaccine administration regime.
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Umar later tweeted about hosting Gates at the NCOC. “(We) shared with him the work which has been done for covid response in Pakistan and the role played by @OfficialNcoc. Thanked him for the support provided by the @gatesfoundation.” “He (Gates) was appreciative of the Covid response effort in Pakistan,” Umar concluded his post.
The philanthropist also visited the anti-polio programme where he was briefed by Programme Chief Shehzad Baig about polio prevention measures in the country. Pakistan is one of the two remaining countries in the world where polio is still categorised as an endemic viral infection.
Prime Minister Khan and Gates have maintained relations for a few years now. Last year, the premier urged Gates to consider providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. The two also interacted over telephone in April 2021 and discussed COVID-19 response, polio eradication and climate change.