The World Health Organization (WHO), in a recent press briefing, has praised Pakistan’s anti-COVID-19 efforts. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, DG WHO, says that Pakistan is among the seven countries, which the world should learn from to fight future pandemics. According to him, Pakistan has effectively used the infrastructure it developed in its fight against polio to tackle COVID-19. Community health workers, previously used to vaccinate children for polio, have been redeployed for contact tracing and monitoring.
These remarks were published on the World Economic Forum (WEF) website, which can be read in full below:
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has issued a stark warning about the work needed to prepare the world for future pandemics.
“This will not be the last pandemic,” he told a 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”.
Significant progress has been made in medicine, he said, but too many countries have neglected their public health systems:
“Part of every country’s commitment to build back better must therefore be to invest in public health, as an investment in a healthier and safer future.” But there are countries the rest of the world can learn from, he said in his opening remarks. Here’s a summary of what he said.
7 countries to learn from
The Director-General highlighted 7 countries, amongst many, whose preparation and response offer lessons for the rest of the world.
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.
Thailand has benefited from 40 years of health system strengthening, he 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.