Dr. Faisal Talks to WHO About Containing Coronavirus

On Thursday, Dr. Faisal Sultan, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on matters related to National Health, talked to WHO. He stated that the country is fully devoted and determined to ensure that the coronavirus outbreak does not cause a widespread outbreak like before. He went on to say that Pakistan will make sure that gains in other regions were not adversely affected. 

He talked to various health ministers belonging to the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR), in a virtual press briefing. Sultan also told them that at the time of the coronavirus outbreak, the country had been suffering from various emergencies and natural disasters. 

The Special Assistant told the health ministers that Pakistan is currently fighting a war with polio. He added that their decade-long efforts to eliminate the disease from the country were being impacted by the coronavirus. He explained how the polio resources and staff have been diverted towards responding to the pandemic. However, Sultan made sure to assure WHO that Pakistan is completely focused on dealing effectively with the coronavirus outbreak.

Since the beginning of the pandemic in February, the country has accomplished numerous impressive feats in its battle against the deadly disease. The Special Assistant noted that from the month of July till August, Pakistan had significantly reduced the number of people infected and the transmission rate as well. 

Dr. Sultan said that like several countries all over the world, easing the lockdown and reopening businesses caused an alarming surge in the number of cases reported in the country in the month of October. This situation required the authorities to review their strategic response. 

The SAPM went on to say that the outbreak of the virus has forced the country to reevaluate its approach towards the management of points of entry (PoE). Thus, the authorities have outlined five findings. 

Discussing the findings, he said that they are a way of developing and designing sustainable human resource capacity. This means that investments will be prioritized in new quarantine infrastructure. Additionally, available facilities will be mapped and professional training programs will be tailored to suit both health and non-health workers for PoE. Along with this, physical PoE premises will be modified and restructured so that the risk of transmission could be reduced. Lastly, the data collected will be managed and eventually shared with all stakeholders. 

Sultan further said that Pakistan has some existing well- functioning surveillance systems, which were previously used for multiple diseases. 

The SAPM made sure to stress on how important it is for the country to progressively develop and expand on geographical coverage and integrated programs. In his opinion, this can be done with the help of resource management and governance implementation, ensuring quality assurance, convergence of data, and the strengthening of some key technical aspects. 

He also added that Pakistan depends heavily on experience that it had acquired through digital and social media platforms, as wells as locals who are community-based workers. The latter also include listening tools, which come in handy for two-way communication and rumor management in communities.