Pakistan’s response to Covid-19 better than other countries in region: PM’s aide

Published September 12, 2021
Senator Dr Sania Nishtar made the comment while addressing an international conference on Covid-19 and South Asia organised by the School of Public Health and Centre for Contemporary South at Brown University. — APP/File
Senator Dr Sania Nishtar made the comment while addressing an international conference on Covid-19 and South Asia organised by the School of Public Health and Centre for Contemporary South at Brown University. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been much better than other countries in the region keeping in view its socioeconomic and other factors to pre-empt adverse impacts of the virus, said Senator Dr Sania Nishtar.

She was addressing an international conference on Covid-19 and South Asia organised by the School of Public Health and Centre for Contemporary South at Brown University. She had been invited to share lessons from Pakistan regarding the pandemic and its impacts.

Speakers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India joined virtually. Other speakers were from Brown University, Yale University, Harvard University and civil society organisations.

Dr Nishtar said: “Pakistan fared much better than other countries in the region with respect to its response to Covid-19. High level political attention and balanced approach for action, health vs-a-vis livelihoods overseen and led by Prime Minister Imran Khan himself played key role in tackling the issue.”

However, we are currently experiencing the fourth wave, so there is no space for complacency, she told the conference.

Recently, Pakistan has also been ranked the third best worldwide in terms of its effective management of the pandemic. Also, according to the World Bank, Ehsaas emergency cash was the third largest programme in terms of percentage of population covered, and fastest globally in terms of the speed of disbursement of cash to the Covid-19 affectees, she said.

Pakistan has vaccinated more than 21 million people, administering over 65.5 million doses of vaccines, and the target is to vaccinate nearly 70 million people by the end of the year.

The conference focused on different responses from various countries. The pandemic affected all countries but the outcomes varied significantly. Suffering in some countries was substantially greater compared to others based mainly on the level of outbreak of the disease and response.

The speakers said government policies, the strength of public health systems, citizen mobilisation, vaccine availability and administration had mattered in different ways.

There is a need to understand how these factors, and potentially others, came together to generate the outcomes we have thus far observed and responded, the participants noted.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2021

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