ISLAMABAD    -    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and international organisations on Wednesday pledged to provide $2.6 billion for elimination of polio virus from the country, statement said.

A statement released by Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) said that BMGF pledged providing $1.08 billion, while government of Pakistan announced allocating amount of $160 for polio eradication. It said that BMGF along with other development partner organisations and governments in total got impressive pledges of $2.6 billion for elimination of polio virus.

“BMGF pledged to provide $1.08 billion and along with other development partner organisations and governments in total the meeting got impressive pledges of $2.6 billion including $160 million announced by Dr Zafar Mirza on behalf of Government of Pakistan to eradicate polio from the world,” statement said. Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr. Zafar Mirza met with Bill Gates in the Polio Pledging Moment, taking place during Reaching the Last Mile Forum (RLM Forum) in UAE.

A statement said that in the meeting, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr. Zafar Mirza shared the country’s resolve to bring improvements in polio, routine Immunisation, nutrition, reproductive health and family planning. Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries left in the world with circulating wild polio virus which is still crippling children.

RLM Forum is a biennial event that brings together the global health leaders to share insights and best practices on how to map out, eliminate, and eradicate infectious diseases. This year under the theme “Accelerating the Pace” the Forum has brought together more than 250 eminent global leaders, high level functionaries from across government, private sector, philanthropy and academia to discuss reaching the last mile of disease elimination faster. 

Dr. Zafar Mirza also met with the State Minister of Norway Aksal Jacosen, the Director, and Centres for Disease Control Robert Redfield, and President of BMGF Global Development Programme Dr. Chris Elias. The purpose of the meetings was to increase collaboration in funding, technical assistance, and the help of global experts toward improving health, nutrition and financial inclusion in Pakistan.

Dr. Zafar Mirza appreciated the efforts of Centres for Disease Control (CDC) in Pakistan. He said that “CDC is an active supporter in many health initiatives in Pakistan.” He also shared details of national action plan on injection safety, the HIV outbreak and the challenges faced by Pakistan.

He also highlighted the government efforts and strategy to control the diseases.

The Director CDC committed to provide all support to control the outbreak of polio in Pakistan. Meanwhile, Dr. Zafar Mirza in his meeting with Dr. Chris Elias of BMGF expressed fullest commitment to put measures in place to end polio once and for all.

The Minister emphasised on the unification of the programme with EPI to strengthen routine immunisation 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 of government of Pakistan and assured maximum support. He said 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.”