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ISLAMABAD: The first Global Health Security Summit (GHSS) began on Wednesday in Pakistan under the theme “Together for a Healthy Planet” with aims to foster international cooperation, knowledge exchange, and strategic partnerships with a special focus on fighting against Covid-19-like pandemics.

While addressing the inaugural session of the two-day Global Health Security Summit 2024, Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar stressed the need to explore mechanisms for global funding that could ensure the provision of adequate health services to everyone.

He called for a global health programme adequately funded in accordance with the International Health Regulations (IHR) capacities evaluation.

Covid-19 preventative steps reinstated at major airports

Highlighting the need for a collective response to address external and internal health challenges, the caretaker prime minister said the world must invest in open, transparent, and multi-sectoral processes to strengthen buy-in and commitment at all levels.

“A cross-sectoral approach to managing antimicrobial resistance requires international collaboration,” he said. “We need a unified front against antimicrobial resistance, with coordinated efforts to develop and enforce global standards for the responsible use of antibiotics and infection prevention.”

The caretaker prime minister said no state in the world can deal with health challenges alone, as well as, the internal challenges posed by population growth, rapid urbanisation, and climate change.

He called for establishing a shared vision of the world where health security was not a privilege but a universal right. “In pursuit of this vision, we must recognise that health security extends beyond the realm of traditional healthcare.”

He said the developed world has systems in place to timely respond to various health emergencies, especially related to climate change, while the developing world is lacking such a system. He cited the devastating impacts of Covid-19 and climate-induced incidents such as the historic floods of 2022 in Pakistan.

He said the cost of climate injustice in Pakistan was 33.3 million affected people, 1,700 deaths, and economic loss of more than $30 billion in 2022.

The caretaker prime minister, while voicing the “Framework for Climate Resilient Health Systems Pakistan”, said integration of climate resilience into health policies and systems was the need of the hour.

Meanwhile, Caretaker Federal Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC) Dr Nadeem Jan, while inaugurating the summit, said that the significance of collective efforts cannot be overstated, especially against the backdrop of recent global health crises. As the current chair of the IHR-Global Health Security Agenda, the minister reiterated the commitment of the country since the initiative’s inception in 2015.

Federal Secretary MoNHSRC Iftikhar Ali Shalwani underscored the importance of the summit and said that it symbolises Pakistan’s unwavering commitment to furthering a safer world, where health security knows no borders.

Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani said the summit was a timely initiative which would help ensure a safer and healthier world for future generations. He said the Covid-19 pandemic that incurred a loss of 3.5 million lives and US$ 12.5 trillion across the globe, ruthlessly exposed the vulnerability of the global health security.

Ambassador of the United States to Pakistan Donald Blome said the US was helping developing nations improve their health systems and enable them to effectively respond to future outbreaks.

Deputy Health Minister of Saudi Arabia Dr Hani Jokhdar said his country believed in the importance of global health security. Besides, he also acknowledged the significance of a pandemic fund.

Head of Afghanistan’s delegation Dr Qalandar Ebad said developing nations needed international cooperation in the health sector as they were not able to tackle infectious diseases such as malaria, TB, and HIV Aids alone. He said both Pakistan and Afghanistan were facing the challenge of the polio disease. Heads of delegations from Turkiye, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan also spoke on the occasion. In another session, leading global health experts reiterated their collective demands to forge a comprehensive policy for battling pandemics in the future through strengthening cooperation, coordination, governance, funding, and an effective administratively-framed plan of action by means of chalking out a mutual way of unanimous collaboration.

They said coordinated global effort is a must to make the world better prepared for future pandemics and get back on track to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Those spoke included Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar, the coordinator National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication; Dr Richard Brennan, Director Emergencies, WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean – Cairo; Elisabeth Hesse, the program director/ acting country director Center for Disease Control and Prevention; Abdullah Fadil, the country representative United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Pakistan; Dr Anne Wilson, Lead IHR Project UK-HAS, England; Supriya Madhavan, a senior health specialist at the Global Financing Facility; Dr Mahmood Adil, advisor to the Qatari health minister; Dr Rehana Ahmed, the chair of Greenstar Social Marketing (GSM) Board and others.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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