World action sought to mitigate virus

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-Dr. Zafar Mirza represents Pakistan in World Health Assembly session
-World community asked to invest in health systems to fight pandemics
-Seeks support for treatment, diagnostics, vaccines
-Pakistan’s virus count surges past 45,000 recoveries lagging behind at 12,50
-Punjab, Sindh keep reporting new cases

By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai

ISLAMABAD: State Minister for Health Dr Zafar Mirza on Tuesday called for coordinated, collective and sustained actions by the international community to suppress and mitigate Covid-19 pandemic, ease the burden on the health systems and support national and global economies.
Sindh marks highest number of single-day deaths as nationwide cases hit 45,019
The nationwide tally of Covid-19 patients stands at 45,061 with 15,976 cases in Punjab, 17,947 in Sindh, 6,554 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 2,885 in Balochistan, 550 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 1,034 in Islamabad and 115 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The virus has claimed at least 969 lives while at least 12,489 coronavirus patients have recovered.
Addressing to 73rd Session of World Health Assembly held in Geneva, via video conference, Mirza said some of the lessons learned from the coronavirus outbreak included the need for enhanced investments in national and global pandemic preparedness, detection and response mechanisms.
The World Health Assembly is the supreme decision-making forum of the World Health Organization (WHO) where 194 nations converge to deliberate and devise strategies for promoting health and reducing disease burden.
Mirza said that the WHA session was significant in many ways and it must lend its full support to the on-going preparedness and response plans and strategies. He urged the assembly to support growing calls for development and production of Covid-related diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines that were affordable, equitable and accessible to all.
“It is clear that no country alone can protect itself from this contagion. Solidarity and unity is, therefore, vital to tackle morbidity and mortality, to ease burden on the health systems, and support national and global economies,” he said.
He said that Pakistan had significantly lower number of Covid-19 patients than the initial international projections, especially considering that Pakistan was the 5th most populous developing country in the world.
However, he stressed that despite these numbers, “we are not complacent and are taking every possible step” to combat the pandemic. “We are implementing a national action plan for Covid-19 with a whole-of-nation approach, including at the highest level and multi-sectoral coordination at federal, provincial and local levels,” he added. “Through this plan the overarching strategy of trace, test and quarantine is being pursued and operationalised. We are training the frontline health care workers through our ‘We Care’ campaign, sustaining the momentum of public awareness messages, making available critical medical supplies to healthcare professionals and workers.”
Mirza told the assembly that Pakistan endorsed the statement delivered by the Chinese delegation on the issue of Taiwan. Pakistan fully supported China’s efforts to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he added. “In line with iterations of General Committee, year after year, Pakistan’s position is that there is only One-China and Taiwan being its integral part has no right whatsoever to claim the membership of WHO,” Mirza said. The de facto health minister of Pakistan told the participants that some of the lessons learned from the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic included the need for enhanced investments in national and global pandemic preparedness, detection and response mechanisms.
“WHO and member states must take this opportunity to start imagining the future of healthcare. Current political global attention must translate into strengthened essential public health functions. More than ever before world needs PHC-based UHC,” he said.
“The world is bearing the fallout of this pandemic in so many different ways, including the spread of other diseases as those have remained relatively unattended, he said, emphasising the need for collective action for voiceless poor suffering through these tough time.
At least 630 new coronavirus cases have emerged in Punjab during the last 24 hours, taking the provincial tally to 15,976. A spokesperson of the Punjab health department said that of the fresh cases, 153 tested positive in Lahore. 13 more people died from coronavirus in the past 24 hours, taking the COVID-19 death toll in the province to 273.
He maintained that Punjab has conducted over 174,305 COVID-19 tests thus far.
Young Doctors Association (YDA) on Tuesday lamented that the Punjab government has not provided personal protective equipment and masks to healthcare professionals in the province. Talking to media outside the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC), members of the association said the hospital is not safe for coronavirus patients as the SOPs are not followed.
They regretted that test results that ought to be provided in 12 hours are released in 14 days, adding 48 staffers at the PIC have contracted the deadly virus because of a lack of protective gear for healthcare workers.
“The Punjab government has not provided any facility to healthcare professionals,” the YDA members claimed, adding they have not been provided even masks as doctors discharging duty in the emergency ward of the hospital have just seven kits and 10 masks. There are no proper arrangements for transferring and handling bodies of Covid-19 victims, they regretted. The YDA demanded of the government to provide PPE and masks to healthcare professionals.