WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

WHO lists Pakistan among 7 countries world can learn from to fight future pandemics

Says Pakistan used infrastructure developed in fight against polio to tackle Covid-19

News Desk September 10, 2020

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed Pakistan among seven countries that it says the world can learn from to fight future pandemics. 

Pakistan has successfully flattened the coronavirus curve despite its dilapidated health infrastructure while the deadly contagion is spreading uncontrollably in many developed countries of the world.

Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has sickened 27.5 million people on the entire planet earth – except for Antarctica – and killed over 900,000 people since its outbreak in December, last year.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, while speaking at the media briefing, highlighted seven countries, amongst many, whose preparation and response offer lessons for the rest of the world in how to deal with a global pandemic. These countries include Pakistan, Italy, Thailand, Mongolia, Mauritius and Uruguay.

“Pakistan has used the infrastructure it developed in its fight against polio to tackle Covid-19,” said the director general. “Community health workers, previously used to vaccinate children for polio, have been redeployed for contact tracing and monitoring.”

Similarly, Thailand has benefited from 40 years of health system strengthening, Dr Tedros explained. “A well-resourced medical and public health system is supported by strong leadership. Coupled with 1 million village health volunteers, and strong communication, the nation has built trust and compliance and confidence among the general population," he said.

Italy was one of the first countries to experience a large outbreak outside of China, said Dr Tedros. It "took hard decisions based on the evidence and persisted with them". Unity and solidarity, along with the dedication of health workers, helped bring the outbreak under control, he explained.

Mongolia also reacted quickly. It activated its State Emergency Committee in January and didn't report a case until January, and still has no reported deaths.

Mauritius used previous experience with contact-tracing and a swift response to overcome high-risk issues - high population density, high rate of non-communicable diseases and lots of international travellers.

Uruguay has one of Latin America's most 'robust and resilient' health systems in Latin America, explained Dr Tedros. Sustainable investments in public health were built on political consensus, he added.

There are many other countries that have done well, added Dr Tedros. From Japan to New Zealand and Vietnam, many countries have fared better because of lessons learned during previous outbreaks of disease, such as SARS or Ebola.

Having learned the lessons of previous pandemics, it's therefore, "vital that we learn the lessons this pandemic is teaching us," he added.

Dr Tedros also issued a stark warning about the work needed to prepare the world for future pandemics. "This will not be the last pandemic," he told the media briefing.

"History teaches us that outbreaks and pandemics are a fact of life. But when the next pandemic comes, the world must be ready – more ready than it was this time."

Dr Tedros called on countries to invest in public health, as a "foundation of social, economic and political stability".


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