ISLAMABAD: The government of Pakistan launched Pakistan’s Preparedness and Response Plan (PPRP) worth $595 million in a bid to suppress and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The initial response plan is intended to strengthen Pakistan’s capacity in emergency prevention, preparedness, response and relief and build health systems for a period of nine months from April to December 2020. Launching the response plan, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi acknowledged the efforts of all stakeholders involved in the preparation of the response plan.
Referring to the response plan as the ‘blueprint’ for Pakistan to fill the gaps to combat COVID19, he stated that the pandemic was a “wakeup call for the world” and global solidarity was needed more than ever.
He paid tribute to the health workers, doctors, nurses and paramedic staff for their services, adding that saving people both from the pandemic and hunger were topmost priorities of the government. He urged the global leaders to come together against a common enemy while underscoring that the socio-economic impact of the virus cannot be separated from the health response.
While referring to the Prime Minister’s ‘Global initiative on Debt Relief’, he said the government of Pakistan was reaching out to all relevant stakeholders to craft a comprehensive response to the financial impacts of COVID-19. He thanked the international partners for the zeal and readiness to respond to the needs of the people of Pakistan amidst COVID-19.
Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Makhdum Khusro Bakhtiar welcomed the G20 announcement on debt relief as well as programs and support of IMF, World Bank and other international financial institutions. He said that adequate and meaningful engagement of multilateral development banks to support debt relief efforts and risk management to the economies of developing countries like Pakistan is essential.
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal underlined the exceptional humanitarian circumstances due to this global crisis demanded immediate global attention. He added that developing countries like Pakistan must be supported to enable them to reduce risk to the population and provide optimal response, recovery and rehabilitation against COVID-19 pandemic.
The response plan calls on all partners to act together and utilise their resources and expertise to help implement a coordinated response across the country at federal and provincial levels. More specifically, all partners will work towards scaling up emergency response mechanism, launching mass public awareness campaigns on COVID19, providing emergency cash transfers, food rations and support educational activities, and expanding surveillance to capture and monitor disease outbreak trends;
The response plan also involves case finding, contact tracing and management in quarantine and isolation facilities, public health measures, and providing essential laboratory equipment and capacity building to adequately test for the virus. It also includes enhancing the capacity of the health system to cope with the surge in patients through delivery of medical supplies and implementation of surge plans.
Director-General World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Tedros Adhanom highlighted that the COVID-19 outbreak is creating significant additional pressure on an already overburdened health system, exacerbating the vulnerabilities of affected populations. “With the fast-moving spread of the pandemic, Pakistan requires, now, more than ever, flexible and timely funding, so that it can be allocated quickly to where it is most needed,” he said.
The World Bank has provided a $240 million package to help Pakistan take effective and timely action to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, while Asian Development Bank has approved more than $52 million in support for Pakistan’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
The participants agreed that these efforts will help to reduce the social and financial impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable people in society during these difficult times and support economic resilience and recovery. They called on shared commitment to stem the impact of COVID-19 in Pakistan and containing the virus by providing the strongest possible support to the response plan.
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