President-elect of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Volkan Bozkir is on a visit to Pakistan. The UNGA president-elect arrived in Islamabad on a two-day visit and was speaking at a press conference with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
UNGA president-elect Bozkir termed Pakistan a key UN member state for its continued support of the UN Charter, besides extending immense contributions at multiple levels, including peacekeeping troops.
He mentioned that the upcoming 75th UNGA session in September would be of great importance owing to global challenges of coronavirus pandemic with its social and economic repercussions on countries.
He praised Pakistan for effectively tackling the pandemic, saying, ”Pakistan was a good example for the world for handling the pandemic-related policies very well.”
“Pakistan has done better than many other countries,” he said.
Of his today’s meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Bozkir said he was impressed by his vision for the region with a focus on peace and security and other global issues such as climate change and reaching out to the under-developed countries.
PAKISTAN’S COVID-19 PATHWAY:
Pakistan is a population of over 212 million, and coronavirus was confirmed to have reached Pakistan on 26 February 2020 when two cases were recorded.
On March 18, 2020, coronavirus cases had been registered in all four provinces, the two autonomous territories, and Islamabad. Pakistan had a peak of 6,825 cases on June 14.
Pakistan has so far recorded 6,082 COVID-19 related deaths, and a total of 284,121 cases recorded as of August 10. Over 90% of patients in Pakistan have recovered, and COVID-19 infections have considerably dropped over the past month.
Only two months back, critics were saying Pakistan was on the brink of being ravaged similar to what Brazil was witnessing when it comes to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
As the country prepares for Independence Day on August 14, and opening up for tourism, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Saturday directed the provinces to devise guidelines for managing tourism sector to contain the resurgence of COVID-19 outbreak.
The NCOC meeting chaired by Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar discussed opening up of tourism sector with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and safety guidelines for containment of the disease.
HARD WORK POWERED BY SMART STRATEGIES:
Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the government’s smart lockdown policy had yielded positive results with a sharp decline in coronavirus cases.
Just a few days ago, on Eid Al Adha, Imran Khan had warned that the government would be forced to impose strict lock-down in case of spread of coronavirus, which would “result in increased financial losses and unemployment”.
“The world is acknowledging our smart lockdown strategy that has led to a gradual decline in our cases…But if we are not cautious during Eid… cases might rise again and the situation can worsen,” Khan said, citing the example of Australia and Spain where the virus cases had spiked after initially falling.
DEVOTION TO THE COMMON MAN
From day one, Imran Khan had made it clear, the policies of mass lockdowns and curfews across Pakistan are not going to work when it comes to the poor people of his country. Most of this poor class works on a day to day basis, and Imran Khan wasn’t convinced that a mass lockdown will help. Hence the focus on smart and selective lockdowns on areas where active surveillance was needed got initiated.
Pakistan was one of the few countries where early on during the pandemic, temperature checks at airports, and mass distribution of face masks came into practice, and so did sanitizing sprays when it came to entry points at shopping areas or public places.
The federal government’s economic relief package also benefited the healthcare professionals in the country. It was decided that if a doctor or a paramedic died while treating coronavirus patients, they would be considered martyrs and their families would receive the package that is given to martyrs.
The Prime Minister had said that since Pakistan faced the challenges of poverty, slum population, informal and unregistered labour, the smart lock-down was the “best option to maintain a balance, i.e. to allow poor and daily wagers to earn livelihood under safety SOPs”.
He mentioned that the government was proud to launch Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, under which an unprecedented number of deserving people received financial assistance after thorough verification with NADRA’s system in a short time span.
FOCUS ON ENVIRONMENT
In the midst of all this, Imran Khan did not forget his resolute focus on improving the environment. Continuing plantation drive even during the COVID-19 pandemic is an applaudable act, said a letter that was written by representatives of climate change organizations in the United States and France. The letter said that implementing Imran Khan’s vision would help the world in tackling environmental issues. Imran Khan’s climate change efforts have laid a foundation for a new economy, the letter stated further as per local media reports.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday launched country’s biggest tree plantation campaign, targeting around 3.5 million trees in a day across the country on Tiger Force day.
WHAT IS THE DATA TELLING US
Compared to its neighbour India, Pakistan’s trajectory during this pandemic, and now the course towards bending the curve has been hard work, passion, resilience, and based on smart and strategic maneuvering. Critics have sometimes called it Imran Khan’s u-turns, but advocates called them strategic moves that adapted to changing dynamics.
So far, Pakistan has reported around 6,000 deaths, while Brazil has about the same size population as Pakistan, it has reported more than 100,000 deaths and over 3 million cases, according to data compiled by worldometers.com.
Pakistan now needs to keep reinforcing the message to its people, so that people are more careful this time around and adhere to the SOPs announced by the government, compared to previous Eid festivals.
Beyond the focus on implementing and maintaining SOPs, Pakistan needs to learn from its experience as it has a massive population, and data points that it could harness beyond data intelligence to predictive and prescriptive intelligence.
“Pakistan is leading the way with its welfare state – the world can learn from its innovation”, wrote Lord Nigel Crisp in his opinion article in The Telegraph (UK). He wrote specifically in regards to Imran Khan’s Ehsaas Program. Lord Nigel said, “We should all be looking with particular interest at the work underway in Pakistan to build a sustainable welfare state”
When it comes to global pandemics, there are not many examples of a country who at one point was being referred to as a potential example of horrible outcomes, but amazingly turned around the way Pakistan has demonstrated. Pakistan’s battle with COVID-19 is not over, but there are lessons to be learned for some of the other countries.
With its massive population data, connected population and enhanced mobility, Pakistan should be thinking towards designing a national health intelligence strategy, that is more focused on predicting diseases as compared to struggling to detect, diagnose or manage. That is not just for Pakistan, but for all countries to consider.
The author is a global thought leader and speaker on value-based healthcare, precision health, and evidence-based implementation of Artificial Intelligence in healthcare. The author is based in Toronto, Canada.
Published on August 10, 2020 – With input from Agencies and ourworldindata.org | Cover: Shahzaib Damn Cruze / Shutterstock.com