An emergency video-link meeting of the the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation – Steering Committee on Health (OIC-SCH) was held on Friday to discuss the fallout of COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office, the meeting was attended by ministers of health and representatives from OIC-SCH member states, heads/representatives of OIC institutions/organs, including the Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDB Group) president, and a number of international organisations.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza represented Pakistan in the meeting via video link.
OIC Secretary General Dr Yousef A Al-Othaimeen highlighted the need for the OIC member States to take immediate and decisive measures to combat the global pandemic.
He expressed OIC’s readiness to utilise its available resources to help the peoples of the Islamic World in the difficult times and lauded the role of the IsDB and the Islamic Solidarity Fund for their initiatives.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Zafar said that the COVID-19 pandemic posed an unprecedented challenge to humanity which required a collective international response.
Highlighting Pakistan’s efforts, he underscored that the country has been actively engaged in containing the pandemic from its outset by taking several preventive measures.
The SAPM said that planning and coordination efforts were being led by Premier Imran Khan himself.
To ensure a unified national response, a robust institutional mechanism was set up under the National Security Committee (NSC) and National Coordination Committee (NCC).
The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) was the implementation arm of the NCC. Necessary lockdown measures including closing of schools, banning public gatherings were also put in place.
The impact of these efforts was enormous as Pakistan was still in the containment phase. The prime minister had announced a relief package of $7.5 billion for vulnerable groups.
Dr Zafar termed the pandemic both as a challenge and opportunity for introspection, especially on healthcare spending and emergencies’ preparedness.
Emphasising the importance of health security as a key component of national security, he underlined the need to develop health regulations at international level and a legal framework at national level to enhance investment in healthcare security infrastructure.
The PM’s aide also said that OIC should strengthen its capacity to cope with this unprecedented challenge by exploiting comparative advantage of member states in the development of pharmaceutical products, vaccines and PPE [Personal Protection Equipment].
At the same time he highlighted Pakistan’s comparative advantage in the healthcare sector.
The SAPM assured the General Secretariat and OIC member states of Pakistan’s full cooperation in combating the pandemic.
Pakistan is a member of the OIC-SCH. Other members include Saudi Arabia, UAE, Maldives, Mauritania, Chad, Turkey, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia and Sudan.