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March 22, 2020

Sherry urges govt’s quick action to control Covid-19 pandemic

National

March 22, 2020

ISLAMABAD: While advocating policy responses for first-order actions on Covid-19 pandemic that seems to be burning through the country, PPP Parliamentary Leader in Senate Senator Sherry Rehman urged the government to take quick action to control the Covid-19 pandemic

“Quick actions given the time-sensitive nature of scaling down the magnitude of the threat to Pakistan as a whole,” she said in a statement on Saturday.

Senator Sherry Rehman urged the governments and citizens must take Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's proposal in practicing and promoting self-isolation, which requires strong leadership in temporarily suspending our social norms that are rooted in social congregations.” Lessons from other countries must not be ignored in losing time, as the virus moves with stealth and speed,” she said.

She said the issue of voluntary and other lockdown options must not be taken lightly, because lives have to be saved first, which means that only essential services should remain open, and immediate financial support lifelines be created for daily wage-earners and small businesses that will suffer in such an emergency. “Though this will be economically tough, this tough choice has to be made as we have to save lives first, and we must do whatever it takes,” she said.

Addressing again the very real problems of distancing for daily wage workers and vulnerable communities, Senator Rehman said that, "Daily wage earners get no sick leave and many are homeless. She said the funds and resources for ration stores must be created, as during a war when food supply chains get interrupted. “We cannot leave our people at the mercy of the market, as 40 percent of our population lives in poverty, and rural populations are already food insecure,” she said.

Senator Sherry Rehman said imagining of resource distribution and allocation is critical, as the existing economic paradigm cannot feed and secure a huge number of people without access to clean water, let alone health services. “If lead ministries can’t handle this then emergency task force should be created,” she said. She said that testing for the coronavirus is essential as cases flood into hospitals.

Given the status of our healthcare system in proportion to population and its potential testing, quarantine care, hospital beds and even ventilator needs, she urged prioritisation of the health infrastructure immediately. "It is important that test kits and ventilators are urgently imported. Initially, only Sindh government was quick to import 10,000 testing kits. The WHO has already stressed upon the importance of testing people, and this cannot be ignored”.

Senator Sherry Rehman said Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s lead should be followed where all health professionals out of the system should be requested to return to duty along with a new cadre of volunteers. “A prevention plan should be made and the federal government should get in touch daily at a designated time on video conference with all provinces for first and second -order emergencies”, the Senator added. She said despite the reduced load of flights, airport screening still has to continue and if that is not possible then minimise the load at borders.

Highlighting the deteriorating state of our healthcare system, the Senator stated that, “Pakistan’s federal health budget of Rs13,897 million has to be grown from less than 1 % of federal budget of Rs4,780,358 million so procurements, imports, emergency health expenditures should stay with lead ministry.