Pakistan seeks revival of SAARC health committee to fight coronavirus COVID-19

Pakistan has sought the revival of the South Asian Association for Regional Corporations (Saarc) Technical Committee on Health in order to evolve a common strategy against the coronavirus pandemic, it was reported on Friday.

Pakistan seeks revival of SAARC health committee to fight coronavirus COVID-19
File photo

Islamabad: Pakistan has sought the revival of the South Asian Association for Regional Corporations (Saarc) Technical Committee on Health in order to evolve a common strategy against the coronavirus pandemic, it was reported on Friday.

The proposal was part of a host of measures suggested by Zafar Mirza, the special assistant to the prime minister on health services and regulations, while hosting a video conference on Thursday of Saarc Ministers and officials on the pandemic, The Express Tribune quoted a Foreign Office statement as saying.

Mirza chaired the meeting, attended by all member states and the Saarc Secretary General, Esala Ruwan Weerakoon, the statement said.

Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Minister for Health and Indigenous Medical Services of Sri Lanka; Nabraj Raut, State Minister for Health and Population of Nepal; Wahid Majrooh, Deputy Minister for Healthcare Services of Afghanistan; Ugen Dophu, Health Secretary of Bhutan, Abul Kalam Azad, Director General of Health Services of Bangladesh; Maimoona Aboobakuru, Director General of Public Health of Maldives; and Rajiv Garg, Director General of Health Services of India led their respective delegations.

Issues, including real-time sharing of information and clinical data, capacity building and training of medical and paramedical staff, supply of medicines and medical equipment, research coordination and enhancing cooperation with frontline international organisations, including the World Health Organization (WHO) were discussed.

Sharing Pakistan`s perspective, Mirza underscored that South Asia was particularly vulnerable on account of its high population densities, fragile health systems and rudimentary disease surveillance.

He said that the uncertainties associated with the outbreak had left no room for complacency, adding however that it also posed an opportunity for South Asia to strengthen health systems.

During the conference, all heads of delegation presented their country situations and efforts to contain the outbreak at national levels.

Proposals to fast-track creation of linkages among medical universities, academia and research institutions came under review.

"The Health Ministers` Video Conference was a reaffirmation of Pakistan`s commitment to the Saarc process and its efforts to forge closer cooperation among Member States in situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic," The Express Tribune quoted the statement as saying.