Pakistan: Responding to COVID-19 Challenges

Monday, March 30, 2020

Pakistan, one of the world’s most populous nations with 220 million inhabitants, is battling the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak and adopting evolving measures to help prepare and protect individuals, workplaces and the public’s health in response to the rapidly-evolving local situation.

Currently, EPOS teams are providing technical assistance on three active healthcare projects in Pakistan, aimed at supporting the Federal Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination, as well as the Health Departments of the 4 provinces, 2 autonomous territories, and the Islamabad Capitol Territory in various initiatives to strengthen healthcare services, medical teams and community care networks as well as the construction and renovation of health care facilities and regional blood centres.

Our technical teams have ensured that all projects meet evolving national COVID-19 measures, while working as strategic advisory partners to potentially develop effective COVID-19 disease control actions in partnership with health departments, civil society and organisations and NGOs specialised in health care, and international donors.

During COVID-19 early response actions in Pakistan, project teams in an ongoing health infrastructure project funded by KfW immediately implemented effective virus prevention hygiene protocols across five active construction sites for regional blood centres. These actions included ensuring workers in each of the construction sites had access to sufficient water, soap, hygiene guidelines and social distancing information in the local language in order to protect themselves and others on-site.

When evolving governmental COVID-19 measures in Pakistan recently required the closure of all construction sites nationwide, the project team rapidly engaged to instruct protocols to secure buildings, materials, and equipment across all five construction sites. This ensures construction can readily restart following the COVID-19 emergency.

“Our project teams are committed to supporting the public health response to COVID-19 coronavirus challenges in Pakistan and are actively engaged in ongoing health emergency and preparedness exchanges with national health authorities and donor organisations,” according to Project Manager and Senior Consultant Milena Beyene-Kuehnl.

Project health experts in the KfW-funded ‘Rural Family Planning’ project are currently exploring how to assist in the development of specific early stage COVID-19 social and behaviour change communication (SBCC) campaigns and materials. These campaigns could be adapted locally and broadcast widely via radio, TV, social media, billboards, etc. with awareness and education materials disseminated via established and trusted community healthcare clinics supported by project activities.

“Our project managers and international and local health experts are also liaising with national health authorities and donors to potentially develop specific COVID-19 training to ensure that healthcare workers know how to engage with patients and care givers, detect possible cases, communicate with patients about the virus, and report cases to relevant health authorities,” explained Beyene-Kuehnl.

Training would also address effective procedures for healthcare workers to use personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, gowns, etc.) to protect themselves in context of their exposure to the disease.

We’ll continue to share further information over the coming weeks on how our project teams are supporting government officials, local organisations and international donor agencies to respond to COVID-19 challenges in Pakistan and other countries where we have ongoing projects.