A virtual Working Group Meeting of the Focal Persons of the D-8 Health and Social Protection (HSP) Programme on COVID-19 pandemic was held on 16 April 2020. The purpose of the meeting was to provide a platform for coordinating D-8 response to combat the pandemic.

The meeting was attended by delegations of Health Ministries of D-8 member States as well as representatives from Chatham House, Global Women Leaders in Health, WHO and ILO. Dr. Safi Muhammad Malik, Director General Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, was the focal point for Pakistan. Director General (EC&OIC) Mr. Tariq Karim, in his capacity as Pakistan’s Commissioner for the D-8, also attended the meeting.

In his remarks, D-8 Secretary General Dato’ Ku Jaafar Ku Shaari stated that the world was facing an unprecedented challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. While appreciating responses of the member States to combat the pandemic, the Secretary General emphasized the need for greater multilateral cooperation. He stated that it was a time that required innovative, decisive and coordinated measures to save and secure lives of 1.1 billion people in D-8 member States.  He urged the member countries to enhance their cooperation to combat the pandemic.

In his country statement, Dr. Safi Muhammad Malik highlighted various steps taken by the Government of Pakistan to combat the pandemic, including through various preventive measures such as necessary lockdowns, closing of schools and banning public gatherings, screening and testing, provision of PPE, surveillance of cases, expansion of isolation facilities, and information campaign. These steps were effective as Pakistan was still in the containment phase. He also mentioned about Prime Minister’s relief package of $ 8 billion launched for vulnerable groups.He highlighted the need for cooperation among member States through; harmonization of standards in travel and trade; mobilization of resources to develop core health capacities; building and dissemination of information; and development of partnership with international agencies.

In his intervention, Pakistan’s Commissioner for the D-8 highlighted the need for greater cooperation among D-8 member States to cope with the pandemic, including through existing D-8 mechanisms like D-8 HSP. Stating that the pandemic has unfolded an unprecedented global health & economic crisis, he highlighted Prime Minister Imran Khan’s call for ‘Global Initiative on Debt Relief’ for developing countries to enable them to free up resources to combat the disease and shore up economies. He also reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to the D-8 for collective welfare of the people of D-8 countries.

The participants agreed to hold regular round tables for D-8 HSP and constituted two working groups to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, i.e. implementation monitoring and resource mobilization.

Pakistan is a founding member of the D-8. Other members include Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria and Turkey.



16 April 2020

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