Prime Minister Imran Khan, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Chris Elias, president of global development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, participated in a bilateral meeting on the future of Ehsaas, a collaboration to put funding, technical assistance, and the help of global experts toward improving health, nutrition and financial inclusion within Pakistan. Ehsaas aims to provide effective safety nets through 134 new poverty-focused policy actions and programs.
PM Khan said this is “the biggest anti-poverty project ever launched in the country and it has been planned with a great deal of attention to detail. I’m pleased that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will assist with a range of activities including accelerating stunting reduction programs, supporting financial inclusion initiatives and investing in public health systems to improve health and reduce maternal, newborn and child mortality.”
Since he came to office in 2018, Prime Minister Imran Khan has set out an ambitious plan to alleviate poverty and improve health and education for the most vulnerable people. The focus of these efforts is in Ehsaas, a new multi-sectoral initiative established by the federal government. The initiative aims to radically improve Pakistan’s progress toward achieving the UN Sustainable Development Global Goals (Global Goals) for its more than 210 million people.
During the meeting, PM Khan expressed full commitment to put measures in place to end polio once and for all, as well as make progress on the micro-payment gateway and financial inclusion. The ‘One Woman One Bank Account’ program, which comes under Ehsaas, was also discussed in relation to how it can accelerate both financial inclusion and women’s empowerment.
This new collaboration continues the foundation more than decade-long work in Pakistan. Programs have covered a range of shared development priorities, including polio eradication, financial inclusion, routine immunization and maternal, neonatal and child health. Throughout that time, polio – a disease that stands on the brink of eradication across the world – has remained the top priority. The foundation plans to spend about $200 million in Pakistan in 2020.
Ehsaas is about the creation of a ‘welfare state’ by countering elite capture and leveraging 21st century tools—such as using data and technology to create precision safety nets; promoting financial inclusion and access to digital services; supporting the economic empowerment of women; focusing on the central role of human capital formation for poverty eradication, economic growth and sustainable development; and overcoming financial barriers to accessing health and post-secondary education.