PESHAWAR: The World Health Organisation has appreciated Pakistan’s response to Covid-19 as it reduced mortalities and cases.

The world health agency has recommended strict adherence to SOPs to sustain the gains achieved during the last few months and prevent the pandemic to bounce back.

“Pakistan’s timely response to Covid-19 is the best in the region but it still needs to enhance testing of people and strictly observe physical distancing measures, wearing mask and washing hands, especially during the upcoming Eidul Azha,” Dr Palitha Mahipala, the WHO country chief, told a meeting held at Khyber Medical University (KMU) here on Thursday.

He said that the disease could be controlled only through following SOPs. He said that they donated five PCR machines and regularly supplied kits and personal protective equipment besides training of staff and carrying disinfection at the hospitals during the Covid-19 situation.

“More testing is the only tool, which can give us clear picture regarding the prevalence of the infection. We will continue to assist in investigation as well as management of the patients,” said Dr Palitha.

WHO country chief calls for adherence to SOPs to sustain the gains

Dr Asif Ali of KMU gave a presentation regarding the laboratory assessment in the province conducted in collaboration with the WHO over the past week and said that 167,109 Covid-19 tests had been performed in the province so far.

He said that of those, 98,000 (59 per cent) were conducted in Public Health Reference Laboratory of KMU while 69,109 (41 per cent) were conducted in other laboratories. He said that 92 per cent tests were conducted in public sector laboratories and eight per cent in private labs.

“Currently the province’s testing capacity is 8,000 tests per day and 2,000 of the PHRL. During the last four months, we have established 16 more laboratories,” said Dr Asif Ali.

He said that five laboratories were developed in private sector. He added that all the laboratories were developed in line with the guidelines of WHO and National Institute of Health, Islamabad.

KMU Vice-chancellor Prof Ziaul Haq said that PHRL was established in 2017 in the fulfilment of WHO’s International Health Regulations and it was at the forefront during the coronavirus situation. The varsity was playing leading role in strengthening diagnostic services in the province and would continue to act as an umbrella for the whole province, he added.

Prof Zia lauded the cooperation of health department and said that continuous flow of funds was important to further expand the lab network and utilise the same for putting brakes on epidemics in future.

Health Secretary Syed Imtiaz Hussain Shah said they were trying their level best to increase Covid-19 tests as part of the strategy to diagnose infected people in the province.

“We are recruiting more staff and getting more equipment to utilise the labs established during the Covid-19 pandemic for other ailments like dengue and CCHF in future,” he said.

WHO provincial chief Dr Saeed Akbar Khan and head of emergency programme Dr Michael Lukwiya were also present on the occasion.

Later, the WHO country chief Dr Mahipala also visited the Public Health Reference Laboratory at Khyber Teaching Hospital.

He asked the relevant doctors to scale up testing services to ensure early investigation of Covid-19 patients and their prompt management.

“We have already given three PCR machines having the capacity of 300 conducting cases per day. There will be uninterrupted supply of kits but we need to get more swabs as it is very important to increase level of diagnostic,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2020

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