WHO assesses weaknesses in govt response to pandemic

Updated 21 Oct 2020

Email

The World Health Organisation is carrying out an assessment to ascertain the weaknesses of the government regarding Covid-19 response and strengthen its preparations to prevent the second wave of the infection. — File
The World Health Organisation is carrying out an assessment to ascertain the weaknesses of the government regarding Covid-19 response and strengthen its preparations to prevent the second wave of the infection. — File

PESHAWAR: The World Health Organisation is carrying out an assessment to ascertain the weaknesses of the government regarding Covid-19 response and strengthen its preparations to prevent the second wave of the infection.

The six-member mission, which arrived in Pakistan on a 10-day visit, is holding meetings with health officials in other provinces but proceeded to Peshawar on Tuesday and held meetings with authorities concerned to know about the response to the pandemic and help strengthening its shortcomings to avoid second wave of the ailment that has already caused devastation in many countries.

Senior officials in health department told Dawn that the mission led by Dr Yvun J Hutin, the WHO director of infectious diseases, held detailed discussions regarding the Covid-19 strategy, surveillance system, investigation, coordination, risk communication and other areas and asked the department about the contact tracing of the confirmed patients as part of its strategy to file recommendations and assist the government in dealing with the virus in near future.

According to them, the federal government has already secured some funds in response to its appeal for $490 million from World Bank and other donor organisations to be able to put up a strong response to prevent the disease from recurrence.

Team reaches Peshawar to strengthen preparations for second wave of infection

The world health agency, officials said, appreciated Pakistan’s response to the Covid-19 but wanted measures to be taken for a sustained strategy to avoid any complications.

WHO, which is already assisting Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the areas of Covid-19 testing, infection control and training measures, will also meet the federal health authorities and will make report for all the country with province-wise recommendations.

However, the WHO mission asked the health department to strengthen the Integrated Disease Surveillance Response System (IDSRS) to know about the level of disease in advance and take appropriate steps before a disease could snowball into major public health issue, they said.

A few years ago, the WHO had developed disease early warning system (DEWS) for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which reported diseases among patients visiting the public sector hospitals on daily basis.

The system has now been replicated as IDSRS to keep an eye on disease’s trend and take timely steps and avoid outbreaks.

Officials said that the system existed only in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to which the WHO team came to Peshawar to discuss it with the authorities concerned and further strengthen it for avoidance of not only Covid-19 but also dengue and other epidemics.

They said that the mission also expressed satisfaction over the number of Covid-19 cases being reported in general population as well as in school inmates and recommended that number of tests should be increased to know the scale of the ailments and take timely steps.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has so far reported 515 cases in schools, mostly in Peshawar, the capital city, which is leading with 116 cases. However, the positivity rate is 1.17 per cent which is satisfactory, according to officials.

The WHO also recommended that testing in schools should be further increase, especially in the districts that had more cases in general population.

A report on Tuesday said that the province registered 71 new cases during the last 24 hours which made its tally of patients 39,779 of whom 36,064 had already recovered and the number of active cases was 450. The pandemic had killed 1,250 persons so far.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2020