Written by Shankhyaneel Sarkar | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan on Wednesday requested billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates to extend humanitarian aid to people of Afghanistan. While speaking with the founder of Microsoft, the Pakistan prime minister said that half of Afghanistan’s population was living below the poverty line, news agency PTI reported citing a statement from the Pakistan prime minister’s office.
Khan apprised Bill Gates, who is the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), regarding Pakistan’s and Afghanistan’s efforts to eradicate polio. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), which spearheads the global war against the debilitating disease, says that both these nations are the only countries where the disease is still endemic. Pakistan reported 1 case of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) this year and its neighbour Afghanistan also reported 1 case this year. Both countries have however reported circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) cases, Pakistan reported eight such cases while Afghanistan reported 43 such cases. cVDPV2 happens when immunization rates are low in communities.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control, polio is caused by the poliovirus and is a disabling and life-threatening disease. It is highly contagious and spreads through person-to-person contact.
Khan told Gates that positive WPV environmental samples have decreased substantially while expressing his government’s commitment to ending all forms of polio in the country. He also thanked the BMGF for its continued support in Pakistan’s fight against polio.
In Pakistan and Afghanistan, vaccinating children against polio saw hindrances from terrorists who oppose the drives, claiming that the polio drops cause infertility.
Khan also reiterated the need for providing financial support to Afghans. “The prime minister highlighted that more than half of the population in Afghanistan was living below the poverty line and in dire need of financial assistance. He requested Mr. Gates to consider providing humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people,” the statement said.
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