Pakistan Army chief Bajwa, Bill Gates discuss polio eradication

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Bill Gates had a telephonic conversation with Pakistan Army Chief General Bajwa

Islamabad: Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has assured Bill Gates of full cooperation in making Pakistan a polio-free state, days after health authorities found the presence of the virus in seven cities, a media report said on Tuesday.

The polio virus was earlier detected by federal health authorities in sewage samples in seven cities, including four cities in the country's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as well as in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, The News International reported.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Bajwa and the co-founder of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, whose top priority is polio eradication, in a telephonic conversation discussed "Pakistan Army’s role in anti-polio drive coverage through community leaders".

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a major supporter and partner of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), which was launched when the virus was present in more than 125 countries and paralysed about 1,000 children per day.

Today, wild polio is found only in Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to the foundation.

Bajwa appreciated the efforts of Gates and his foundation in eradicating polio from the country and assured him of full cooperation in making Pakistan a polio-free state, said an ISPR statement.

Pakistan in 2022 confirmed the detection of 13 polio cases in North Waziristan and one in Laki Marwat district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Late last month, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Gates also discussed the anti-polio campaign in the country.

Gates had expressed concern over the increasing number of polio cases and assured his continued support in eradicating the virus from the country.

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