In latest weeks we have now seen a variety of self-congratulatory bulletins declaring Pakistan a winner of coronavirus management technique. Many worldwide magazines have additionally put Pakistan on the highest of their lists. What’s the actual scenario? If Pakistan’s Covid management technique is so profitable, then why are different international locations not approaching us to be taught from our expertise? Why have high scientific journals not revealed our success story? If Pakistan is a rockstar then the place are the queues of individuals prepared for an autograph or a selfie with our consultants?
It’s not that Pakistan has not completed something good within the context. A whole lot of good work went into our management efforts, together with the truth that we began early in mid-January 2020. By the point Pakistan had its first affected person, we had been preparing for six weeks. Response nonetheless floundered however not that a lot, even when as a substitute of China we began getting circumstances from Iran. NCOC was set as much as give the logistic and muscle assist to in any other case benign Ministry of Well being advisories. Polio groups, together with NSTOP, had been reassigned to get the each day variety of Covid circumstances. District well being and administrative groups acquired a brand new mandate to regulate Covid-19. Now our EPI has stepped as much as play a job for which it was by no means educated.
Why does then the UK nonetheless refuse to take away Pakistan from its pink listing? Even with all of the diplomatic negotiations we acquired a letter telling us that Pakistan just isn’t testing sufficient so we could not know what is going on in our personal nation. Many felt that the UK could also be utilizing politics slightly than actual information to make this resolution. That could be true. However the bigger query is: why after multiple and half years, we have now not elevated testing, applied hint capacities, and added genomic sequencing in our surveillance system in a structured means? Sadly, we nonetheless consider that each day numbers from labs are a substitute of a illness surveillance system.
However what about The Economist praising Pakistan? The much-touted normalcy index talks about international locations doing enterprise with out Covid curbs. Sure, Pakistan is quantity three on that listing after Hong Kong and New Zealand, however do you wish to know which international locations are subsequent to Pakistan with very shut scores? The following three international locations are Nigeria, Romania and Ukraine. The index has two forms of international locations. One set of nations are those who vaccinated their inhabitants or used public well being measures to regulate the pandemic earlier than coming again to the enterprise. Others, like Pakistan, couldn’t afford each measures and opened anyway. Practically all growing international locations together with most of Africa have fared effectively on this pandemic. Aside from youthful populations (not many individuals survive to reside lengthy lives), they might have totally different viral exposures early in life. However the pandemic just isn’t but over and tomorrow some new variant could present affinity for youthful populations; then what? That has occurred earlier than. Within the Swine flu pandemic in 2009, kids 5 to 14 had been 14 occasions extra susceptible than these above 60.
If we had a working illness surveillance system following structured parameters, sticking to case definitions, arrange in a consultant method and offering well timed actionable data, we might have been at a significantly better place. Downside of a damaged system is that we don’t have details to win an argument. No illness reporting system (surveillance) wants to check and report 100% of circumstances. If completed correctly, even the ten% or much less circumstances might give good estimates for the remaining 90% of inhabitants. A haphazard data amassing system then again will nonetheless not be dependable even when we improve our testing from 60,000 to 200,000 each day. Right here you want a technical — and never administrative or political — management. Not for any pink listing however for security of our personal inhabitants, we have to know what actually is going on with us.
Revealed in The Specific Tribune, September 4th, 2021.