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Wednesday December 08, 2021

Task force looks into ways to enhance functionality of IHR

July 17, 2021

Islamabad : In order to discuss the progress and mechanism for leveraging International Health Regulation (IHR) mechanisms in Pakistan within the broader context of lessons learnt from COVID 19, the second task force meeting of IHR was convened here Thursday with the PM’s Special Assistant for Health Dr. Faisal Sultan in the chair.

Organized in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), the meeting was attended by members of the IHR-multi sectoral task force comprising provincial DGHS, IHR focal points, representatives of line ministries and development health partners.

Speaking as chair, Dr. Faisal acknowledged that COVID-19 has made us realize the critical role of health and non-health actors in implementing IHR core capacities. “Pakistan is committed to the Global Health Security Agenda in a coordinated, multisectoral partnership approach, in close collaboration with the provincial Departments of Health, other sectors and health development partners as a global health safety responsibility,” he said.

Dr. Faisal informed the forum that the government is in process of establishing the National Centers for Diseases Control at the National Institute of Health with a broader mandate to deal with health emergencies management and enhance emergency preparedness

WHO Representative Dr. Palitha Mahipala emphasized that COVID-19 pandemic has provided a real-life opportunity to practice and strengthen event detection, assessment, prevention, and response with effective monitoring. The experience and lessons learnt during COVID-19 response must be evaluated as part of the due second Joint External Evaluation (JEE) for assessment of health systems performance in the overall IHR context, he said.

“There is a need to enhance functionality of IHR implementation through sustainable interventions. The executive coordination set-ups created for COVID response require institutionalization as national accountability mechanism for oversight on IHR implementation and compliance with regular periodic multisectoral review process,” Dr. Paitha recommended, assuring WHO’s support.

Earlier, Director General Health Dr. Rana Safdar recalled that Pakistan was one of the first countries in EMRO to conduct joint external evaluation. Since then, the country has made considerable improvement in many areas like AMR, IDSR etc., but a lot more need to be done to build a resilient health system, based on lessons learnt during Covid-19.

Pakistan is signatory to IHR 2005 and has also been selected as one of the 17 Global Health Security Agenda member states under global health security.

The forum recommended that that the IHR taskforce should meet on a regular basis, the coordination mechanism should be strengthened, provincial level task forces should be notified, and lessons learnt should be used to build a resilient health system to tackle not only Covid but any other health calamity too.