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Pakistan Army Chief Tells Bill Gates Anti-Polio Campaign to Restart Soon

Pakistan Army Chief Tells Bill Gates Anti-Polio Campaign to Restart Soon

Pakistan’s army chief has told Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates that despite the crisis of COVID-19, Pakistan intends to resume polio vaccination operations across the country.

In an announcement late Wednesday, the military stated that Gen. Qamer Javed Bajwa talked with Gates by phone and proffered his assurance that the campaign to eradicate polio in this poverty-stricken Islamic nation would start again soon. No start date was provided yet.

Polio is a disabling, life-threatening disease produced by the poliovirus, and Gates has fought to annihilate the disease globally.

Pakistan Army Chief Tells Bill Gates Anti-Polio Campaign to Restart Soon
Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa at 54th Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich, southern Germany, on February 17, 2018. Image Source: Getty Images

Pakistan had hoped to eliminate the disease in 2018 when only 12 cases were reported, but there was a surge in new cases the following year. Pakistan halted its anti-polio campaign after the first coronavirus case was published in February.

Bajwa told Gates that Pakistan’s military had already been working with the government on preparations to restart campaigns against polio in the coming weeks. The nonprofit Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has helped Pakistan to fight the disease.

Gates called Bajwa because the military provides security for polio workers when the government sends them to administer vaccinations in former militant strongholds bordering Afghanistan.

Pakistan Army Chief Tells Bill Gates Anti-Polio Campaign to Restart Soon
Imran Khan and Bill gates at a meeting in New York, US, September 26, 2019. Image Source: Twitter/PTI

Militants stepped up attacks on polio workers and security forces escorting them after it was revealed that a fake hepatitis vaccination campaign was used as a ruse by the CIA in the hunt for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. U.S. commandos killed bin Laden in 2011 in Pakistan.

Pakistan on Thursday reported 101 new COVID-19 deaths, bringing overall coronavirus-related fatalities to 2,356. It also said the highest single-day number of infections with 5,834. That raised the total nationwide cases to around 119,500. Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria are the only three countries in the world where polio is still endemic.

Tags : Anti-Polio CampaignarmyBill GatesGeneral Qamar Javed BajwahealthpakistanPolio

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