Wednesday December 06, 2023

Preparations in advanced stage for establishing disease control centre on pattern of CDC Atlanta

US and China are willing to help us in this regard, says Dr Faisal Sultan

December 04, 2020
SAPM on Health Dr Faisal Sultan. File photo

KARACHI: On the pattern of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, United States, Pakistan has been trying to establish its own CDC, for which preparations have been in an advanced stage, to deal with epidemics of communicable and non-communicable diseases along with emerging infectious ailments and pandemics like Covid-10, and advise the national and provincial governments in dealing with national health emergencies, The News has learnt.

“Yes, we are in the advanced stage of establishing a Centre for Disease Control Pakistan like they have in the United States, China and many other countries of the world. Establishing such an institute was my long-standing dream, which is going to materialise within a few weeks or months,” Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan told The News on Thursday.

He said a draft legislation had been prepared for the establishment of the proposed institute and it was being vetted by experts while his team was also in the process of looking for epidemiologists, microbiologists, molecular genetics experts, virologists and other experts to be part of the centre.

“Either this institute would be established through a [presidential] ordinance or an Act of Parliament but all the legal formalities are being completed in this regard. This dream of mine is going to materialise very soon but it would be a great service to the nation”, Dr Sultan said, adding that not only him but several other infectious diseases and public health experts had been feeling the need for having such an institute in Pakistan for very long.

He maintained that after every crisis and emergency, a need was felt to establish centres like the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) was established after the Covid-19 pandemic and the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) was set up for polio eradication. He added that this reactionary practice should come to end now and there should be a permanent institution like the CDC Atlanta to deal with such emergencies and plan for future threats.

To a query, Dr Sultan said the governments of the US, China and England had offered their assistance for establishing the CDC Pakistan, adding that in addition to foreign governments, Pakistani health experts working in the US, Europe and other parts of the world were also very enthusiastic in this regard and willing to help the country in having a world-class centre for disease control and prevention.

“I have spoken to the ambassadors of the United States and China and the British High Commissioner in Pakistan and they all are willing to help us in this regard. There are several leading Pakistani health scientists and experts who are working at such institutions and they too are very enthusiastic and willing to support us in this endeavour,” the SAPM maintained.

When asked when he felt the need for the establishment of a CDC like centre in the presence of the National Institute of Health (NIH), Islamabad, he said the NIH in its present form was not fulfilling the function of a centre for disease control and prevention despite having a national laboratory.

“The NIH has a different function and it is now heading in a right direction under its current leadership but unfortunately it is not serving the purpose for which it was established. Our proposed centre for disease control would be a quite different institution, which would gather information about diseases, analyse them and recommend actions and give guidance to the authorities on all aspects of health,” Dr Sultan said, adding that after its establishment, there would be no need for setups like the NCOC and the NEOC.

“The CDC Pakistan would not only be working on the prevention and control of infectious and non-infectious diseases in Pakistan but it would also be keeping an eye over road traffic accidents, other disasters involving trauma and emergencies in the country and presenting its recommendations to lower these incidents as well as managing them properly,” he remarked.