Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi attended a two days visit of London to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM 2018) from April 18-20, 2018. The main theme of the meeting reads, ‘Towards A Common Future’. At the airport, the Prime Minister was received by a Special Representative of the British Foreign Minister Mr. David Pearey and H.E. Syed Ibne Abbas, Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK, together with officials of the High Commission.
The Pakistani Prime Minister while speaking at the Malaria Summit held in London alongside the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM 2018) said that, “We have started mobilizing domestic resources and investing in the control and elimination of all communicable disease. The allocation for malaria control by the provincial governments has substantially increased and more than doubled in the last few years,”
Prime Minister Abbasi termed the summit “a timely initiative” and said despite challenges, the malaria control interventions in Pakistan were aligned with WHO Global Technical Strategy (GTS 2016-2030), adding, pursuing universal health coverage, malaria diagnostic and treatment services were being expanded to rural and far flung areas to cater to the needs of general population and marginalized communities.
He said expansion in diagnostic coverage was mainly being done through the provision of Rapid Diagnostic Test kits. Private sector was also being engaged for free of charge malaria case management interventions, he added.
The Pakistani Prime Minister said the reduction of Malaria incidence was mainly attributed to the high impact interventions such as the use of Artemisinin based Combination Therapy and Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs). Plasmodium Vivax has proportionately increased to 85 percent, he added.
The Prime Minister said since 2013, around 12 million free of charge LLINs had been distributed in highest endemic areas of Pakistan.
The currently used Malaria Information System was being updated with a robust and online DHIS-2 to have reliable information, he said, adding, “We are working to bolster existing infrastructure to strengthen diagnostics and preventive areas.”
He said Pakistan was among the high Malaria burden sharing countries in WHO-Eastern Mediterranean Region, adding, Malaria each year caused significant ailments, deaths and economic losses.
The Prime Minister said that Pakistan had established a cross border malaria network with Iran and Afghanistan to effectively coordinate and collaborate malaria control efforts in the bordering areas of the three countries.
“In addition, we have joined hands with Asia-Pacific countries through Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA) to re-affirm our commitment of malaria elimination from the region. Let me assure you that we will further enhance our efforts for complete elimination of Malaria both through increased resource allocation, in spite of many demands, and better coordination and management,” he maintained.
The Pakistani Prime Minister added that Pakistan sincerely appreciated the existing cooperation with WHO and Malinda and Gates Foundation and looked forward to deepening and enhancing its engagement to augment its existing capacity.
The Prince of Wales, delivered the keynote address, while Bill Gates also spoke on the occasion. The summit was also addressed by leaders of various Commonwealth member states including Gambia, Ghana, Guyana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Uganda, Solomon Island, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Tanzania and Zambia.
Prime Minister Meets the Prince of Wales
In his visit, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, at Clarence House in London. The Prime Minister was accompanied by Ali Jahangir Siddiqui, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister and Syed Ibne Abbas, the Pakistani High Commissioner to UK. The Prime Minister felicitated the Prince of Wales on UK’s successful holding of the CHOGM 2018. He hoped that the Commonwealth under the UK’s Chair-in-Office would be revitalized and its role in the changing global geopolitical and economic scenario would improve. The Prime Minister highlighted the contributions made by the Pakistani diaspora in the economic prosperity of the UK and its role in bringing the two countries closer. He also appreciated the UK’s assistance in health and education sectors in Pakistan. He invited Prince Charles to visit Pakistan at his convenience. HRH Prince Charles thanked Pakistan for its high-level participation in the CHOGM 2018. He also commended Pakistan’s valuable contribution to the Commonwealth. The Prince of Wales appreciated the political leadership of Pakistan in ensuring good governance and efforts in implementing economic reforms.
Prime Minister meets UK PM Theresa May
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met UK Prime Minister Theresa May, on the sidelines of the Commonwealth leaders retreat at Windsor Castle, London. The two leaders discussed matters of bilateral interest. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi congratulated PM Theresa May on a very efficient steering of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi highlighted the plight of the Kashmiri people and urged the international community to respond to the current human rights situation in IOK. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi informed PM May of Pakistan’s efforts in fighting terrorism and extremism. He also underscored the importance of strengthening bilateral relations especially in the context of trade and investment and thanked UK for the work done by its development agency in Pakistan. He also appreciated the appointment of a trade envoy by the UK government to help explore trade and investment opportunities between the two countries, especially in the post Brexit context. He also spoke of his visit to Kabul and underscored Pakistan’s commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan. Prime Minister May appreciated Pakistan’s efforts in fighting terrorism and in this context recalled Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s reference to more than 100,000 Pakistanis affected in our fight against terrorism over the past 10 years. She appreciated Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s efforts in reaching out to Afghanistan especially during his recent visit to Kabul. She added that Pakistan-UK relations are strong. She underscored the importance of enhancing trade between the two countries. In response to PM May’s reference to the recent alleged use of chemical weapons, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi recalled Pakistan’s principled position of condemning any use of chemical weapons and upholding the principles of the UN Charter.
Government of Pakistan to Eliminate Preventable Blindness
On the side lines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings in London, the Prime Minister held discussions with Peek Vision and CBM. Peek Vision is a world leader in using smartphone technology and training healthcare workforces in developing countries to eliminate preventable blindness and poor vision. CBM is an international non-governmental development organisation working in the field of disability globally for over 100 years with a major focus on eye care. Peek Vision was represented by their CEO and co-founder Dr Andrew Bastawrous and CBM was represented by their Director of Inclusive Eye Health Dr Babar Qureshi. The discussion centered around a major challenge for Pakistan, that of eliminating preventable blindness. It is estimated that there are more than 8 million citizens of Pakistan that are suffering from preventable visual loss. Peek Vision with CBM is prepared to deploy their partnership to deliver the most advanced solutions for the identification, diagnosis and treatment management for Pakistani citizens using Pakistan’s existing health infrastructure and staff. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi invited Peek Vision to Pakistan and expressed the Governments clear commitment to eliminate preventable blindness in Pakistan. He committed the full support of the Government for a national program in this regard. Peek Vision and CBM agreed to follow up and work with the Government to reach this noble goal. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Mr. Ali Jehangir Siddiqui and Pakistan High Commissioner to UK Syed Ibne Abbas were also present during the meeting.
Delegation of Royal Dutch Shell Calls on Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi
A Delegation of Royal Dutch Shell led by Mr. Ben Van Beurden, Chief Executive Officer, Royal Dutch Shell called on Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in London and discussed further investment interest in Pakistan. The meeting was extremely cordial where Shell’s interests in Pakistan were discussed. The development of Pakistan’s energy sector and in particular the development of Pakistan’s natural gas and LNG was acknowledged by the CEO of Shell. Chief Executive, Royal Dutch Shell informed the Prime Minister about Shell’s interest in the LNG & Renewable energy sectors of Pakistan as well as investments in the more traditional fuels marketing landscape. The Prime Minister was appreciative of Shell’s role in the downstream sector of the country and said he was looking forward to Shell’s investment in LNG & renewables. Mr. Ali Jehangir Siddiqui, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister and Syed Ibne Abbas, Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK were also present during the meeting.
The writer is Head of International Affairs Desk at Melange & COPAIR