LAHORE: The Punjab government has constituted a Working Group consisting of local and international experts to assess the health and economic impacts of Covid-19.

The experts include epidemiologists, public health specialists, applied economists, statistics and public policy specialists who will advise the Punjab government on health and economic impacts through data modeling and predictive analysis regarding smart test sampling and allied matters.

The senior officers from the Primary & Secondary Healthcare Department, Specialised & Medical Education Department, Planning and Development Board, Home Department, HQ 4 CORPS, PDMA and Urban Unit will represent the Punjab government. The international experts are from Yale Institute for Global Health, Yale University, Centre for Economic Research in Pakistan, Research Center LUMS, Centre for International Development Harvard, London School of Economics and researchers from universities of Georgetown and Washington.

The minister of finance shall be the convener of the Working Group while special secretary of P&SHD Punjab has been appointed its focal person, according to an official notification.

According to the terms of references, the Working Group shall design and share smart sampling, testing and data collection methodologies, to help establish prevalence and transmission rates of Covid-19. The experts shall assist the Punjab government to understand immediate health and economic impacts.

They shall provide analysis of relevant data on Covid-19 related to smart sampling/testing provided by the Punjab government and report on the findings, where possible, support government to conduct its own analysis.

The Working Group shall also provide the technical input to the Punjab government about the Covid-19 policy response.

“The Working Group shall work on a pro bono basis and share sampling design and predictive models with the primary & secondary healthcare department for strategy formulation, operational implementation and feedback, “ reads the notification.

It further stated that the P&SHD shall regularly present reports and recommendations of this group before the cabinet committee for prevention of the coronavirus disease for its perusal and further necessary decisions.

The focal person for the Group told Dawn that the Punjab government had brought first time during pandemic of Covid-19 a consortium of intellectuals for economic and health evaluation of the disease’s impact. For the purpose, he said, the government had taken an initiative of smart sampling in which the department would access the five to six most vulnerable groups. The others would be from the front line workers including law enforcement agencies, media, Rescue 1122 etc.

Similarly, he said the department would also trace the contacts of the confirmed patients of Covid-19 and for this various options were under way like geographical sampling in hotspot areas, industries which remained open during lockdown and pharmacies.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2020