The OIC-Steering Committee on Health held its emergency meeting on Thursday in which the Health Ministers participated via Video Link and discussed the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting was attended by the Ministers of Health and representatives from OIC-SCH Member States, Heads/Representatives of OIC Institutions/Organs, including President of the Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDB Group), and a number of international organizations.
The Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza represented Pakistan in the Conference.
In his remarks, the OIC Secretary General Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen highlighted the need for the OIC member States to take immediate and decisive measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen expressed OIC’s readiness to utilize its available resources to help the peoples of the Islamic world in these difficult times and expressed appreciation to the IsDB and the Islamic Solidarity Fund for their initiatives.
While speaking at the meeting, Zafar Mirza stated that the COVID-19 pandemic posed an unprecedented challenge to humanity, which required a collective international response. Highlighting Pakistan’s efforts, he underscored that Pakistan had been actively engaged in containing the pandemic from its outset by taking several preventive measures.
The Special Assistant stated that planning and coordination efforts were being led by Prime Minister Imran Khan himself. To ensure a unified national response, a robust institutional mechanism was set up under the National Security Committee (NSC) and National Coordination Committee (NCC). The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) was the implementation arm of the NCC. Necessary lockdown measures including closing of schools, banning public gatherings were also put in place. The impact of these efforts was enormous as Pakistan was still in the containment phase. The Prime Minister had announced a relief package of US$ 7.5b for vulnerable groups.
Dr. Zafar Mirza termed the pandemic both as a challenge and opportunity for introspection, especially on healthcare spending and emergencies’ preparedness.
Emphasizing the importance of health security as a key component of national security, he underlined the need to develop health regulations at international level and a legal framework at national level to enhance investment in healthcare security infrastructure.
The Special Assistant emphasized that OIC should strengthen its capacity to cope with this unprecedented challenge by exploiting comparative advantage of member States in the development of pharmaceutical products, vaccines and PPE. He also highlighted Pakistan’s comparative advantage in the healthcare sector.
Zafar Mirza assured the General Secretariat and OIC member States of Pakistan’s full cooperation in combating the pandemic.
A joint statement was also issued at the end of the virtual meeting which, inter alia, called on the OIC Countries to exchange more information, experiences and capabilities to combat COVID-19 pandemic.
Pakistan is a member of the OIC-SCH.
Other members include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Maldives, Mauritania, Chad, Turkey, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Sudan.