Pakistan honours Bill Gates for efforts on poverty, disease - GulfToday

Pakistan honours Bill Gates for efforts on poverty, disease


From left: Bill Gates receives Hilal-e-Pakistan from Presidnt, Arif Alvi, holds talks with Imran Khan in Islamabad on Thursday. Reuters

Pakistan awarded Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates its second highest civilian honour on Thursday, in recognition of his work to alleviate poverty and diseases like polio and tuberculosis.

On a daylong visit to the capital, Islamabad, Gates was given the prestigious Hilal-e-Pakistan award by President Arif Alvi in a televised ceremony, after he met with Prime Minister Imran Khan at his office.


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"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 has helped nearly eradicate the disease.

Bill Gates (right) listens to Imran Khan during their meeting in Islamabad. AP

"Government leaders, health workers, and parents are working tirelessly to ensure this disease never paralyses a child again. This is the final, and hardest, phase of the eradication effort, but by keeping up the momentum and staying vigilant, Pakistan has an opportunity to make history by ending polio for good,” Gates said.

The statement quoted Imran as thanking Gates and saying that 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 overseeing Pakistan's coronavirus response since the pandemic began, where he was given a detailed briefing about Pakistan's vaccination drive.

The NCOC said in a statement that Gates recognised Pakistan’s success against COVID-19 despite its limited resources, as fatalities from the coronavirus continue a steady decline in the country.

Gates has appreciated Pakistan's success against COVID-19 despite resource constraints. He was talking to Chairman NCOC Asad Umar in Islamabad on Thursday.
Bill Gates also commended the excellent initiatives and measures taken for public health safety.
Speaking on the occasion, Asad Umar attributed the success to a true national response, executed through an effective communication campaign mechanism of the NCOC, which helped build trust of masses on national COVID response and positive behavioural change to follow Covid protocols as outlined by NCOC.
During the visit to NCOC, Bill Gates and his delegation were apprised about the NCOC role and methodology, achievements since start of pandemic, recent COVID-19 situation across Pakistan and various measures taken by NCOC to control disease spread and ensure public safety and well-being.

Pakistan has registered some 3,000 COVID-19 cases and 40 fatalities over the past 24 hours, compared to nearly 8,000 daily cases and about 50 deaths just weeks ago. Since the pandemic began, Pakistan has registered 1,494,293 cases, including 29,917 deaths.

Pakistan-Bill-Gates-main1-750 Imran Khan and Bill Gates hold talks in Islamabad. AP

Cabinet Minister Faisal Javed Khan congratulated Gates for the award on Twitter, calling it "a well-deserved honour" for his "valuable, exceptional and extraordinary services fighting poverty, disease, and inequality around the world.”

Last year, the country reported only a single case of polio, in its remote southwestern Baluchistan province. Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world where polio remains endemic. The disease can cause partial paralysis in children.


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