Patna: Bill Gates, co-chair and trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, met Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar here on Saturday and discussed ways to work together on key health indicators like family planning and immunisation for the next five years.
The foundation offered commitment to work together on areas of health like maternal, neo-natal and child health, nutrition, infectious diseases management (diarrohea, pneumonia and tuberculosis) and elimination of Kala-azar, and enhance support through technical assistance in sanitation, digital financial inclusion as well as agriculture.
"We stand committed to work collaboratively with the government for the next five years to help achieve their public health and development goals," Gates said.
In addition to the CM, the meeting was also attended by Chief Secretary Anjani Kumar Singh, R K Mahajan, Principal Secretary Health, S M Raju, Secretary, Social Welfare and Chanchal Kumar, Secretary to the Chief Minister among others.
Gates was joined by key members of his India leadership team.
The Bihar government had in the past successfully partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to eliminate polio disease from the state.
Commenting on the meeting, Kumar said health and nutrition were critical indexes of Bihar's progress.
"The state government is committed to ensure equitable health and nutrition services and increased health financing to bring about greater improvements in health and nutrition outcomes so that we can make a significant difference to all," Kumar was quoted in an official statement.
"We need to strengthen our health system so that marginalised communities can receive universal healthcare. We will continue working closely with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to accomplish our health, nutrition and development goals," he said.
Further, to enhance the state's efforts to reduce neo-natal mortality, the Chief Minister said his government was open to the suggestion of involvement of high quality private sector operators, under requisite public private partnerships (PPP) to deliver high quality neonatal care through SNCUs (Special Newborn Care Units).
He said the state was willing to look into attractive contracting and payment systems for which he requested the Foundation to provide technical support.
Kumar assured the Foundation of bringing structural changes in the Public Health systems.