ISLAMABAD: On Friday, April 23, the Government of Pakistan launched Pakistan’s Preparedness and Response Plan (PPRP) in a bid to suppress and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The initial Response Plan, worth US $ 595 million, is intended to strengthen Pakistan’s capacity in emergency prevention, preparedness, response and relief and build health systems for a period of 9 months from April to December 2020. Launching the plan, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi acknowledged and appreciated the efforts of all stakeholders involved in the preparation of the PPRP.
He especially paid tribute to the fearless health workers, doctors, nurses and paramedic staff for their services to the people of Pakistan. He shared that saving people both from the pandemic and hunger were top most priorities of the Government.
He hailed Pakistan’s inclusive approach and collective response from our leadership towards COVID-19. Referring to the PPRP as the “blueprint” for Pakistan to fill the gaps to combat COVID19 in Pakistan, he stated that COVID-19 was a “wakeup call for the world” and global solidarity was needed more than ever.
He urged the global leaders to come together against a “common enemy”. He underscored 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 that 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. At the launch of the response plan, Minister of Foreign Affairs was joined by Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, representatives of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), United Nations, World Health Organization (WHO), World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other partners from the diplomatic community notably China, EU, US, Canada, France, Republic of Korea and Australia.
A large number of representatives of UN agencies, international organizations, INGOs and media joined the launch virtually as well. Minister Bakhtyar welcomed the G20 announcement on debt relief as well as programs and support of IMF, World Bank and other international financial institutions (IFIs). While referring to the Government’s package of around US $ 8 billion to combat COVID-19, he added that adequate and meaningful engagement” of multilateral development banks (MDBs) to support the debt relief efforts and risk management to the economies of the developing countries like Pakistan is essential. Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal, Chairman, National Disaster Management Authority underlined the exceptional humanitarian circumstances due to this global crisis demanded immediate global attention.
He added “support must be given to developing countries like Pakistan to enable them to reduce risk to the population and provide optimal response, recovery and rehabilitation against COVID-19 pandemic”. As the COVID-19 outbreak ravages the world, Pakistan is also witnessing an increase in the cases over the past few weeks.
World can only defeat the pandemic by acting together with exceptional global solidarity and shared responsibility. Stopping the spread of COVID19 in Pakistan is extremely important as it is the fifth-most populous country in the world, with movement of large number of people across the national borders.
The response plan calls on all partners to act together and utilize 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 mechanisms to ensure a whole-of-country and whole-of-society approach; • Launching mass public awareness campaigns on COVID19; • Delivering essential case finding, contact tracing and management in quarantine and isolation facilities; • Expanding surveillance to capture and monitor disease outbreak trends; • Delivering essential public health measures to contain the spread of the virus such as social distancing; • Delivering essential laboratory equipment and capacity building to adequately test for the virus; • Enhancing the capacity of the health system to cope with the surge in patients through delivery of medical supplies and implementation of surge plans; • Providing emergency cash transfers, food rations and support educational activities.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Director General of the World Health Organization, speaking on behalf of the partners 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.” To kick-start the response plan, the World Bank has immediately made available a US$ 240 million package to help Pakistan take effective and timely action to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our support to Pakistan will help the country enhance its healthcare system to better respond to COVID-19, especially as the outbreak continues to evolve rapidly and affects the vulnerable Pakistanis the most” said Mr. Hartwig Schafer, World Bank Regional Vice President for South Asia.
He also emphasized the importance of support to mitigate the socio-economic impacts of the crisis, which the World Bank is also providing. Talking at the occasion, Mr. Bambang Susantono, Vice President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development of the Asian Development Bank said: “We are fully committed to helping Pakistan manage this crisis in close coordination with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the UN system and the global community.
We will mobilize flexible and timely financing for the public health response, expand social support and help to bring about the gradual recovery of the economy.” Asian Development Bank has already approved more than US $ 52 million in support for Pakistan’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
All participants shared their common aspiration that acting together in solidarity, 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 collectively called on everyone to commit to stemming the impact of COVID-19 in Pakistan and containing the virus by providing the strongest possible support to the response plan.