Joint efforts stressed to tackle emerging diseases, climate change

Lahore   -  The world including Pakistan needs collective efforts to make it resilient to emerging diseases and impacts of climate change, health experts said at a review meeting here on Thursday.

The national quarterly meeting on the Integrated Disease Surveillance & Response (IDSR) was held under the auspices of health Ministry and National Institutes of Health, supported by UK Health Security Agency.

Representatives and focal persons from the provinces and regions across the country shared their experiences, learning and challenges related to disease surveillance and response activities.

The meeting was also attended by Chief Executive of UK Health Security Agency, Professor Dr. Jenny Harries, who is the key partner of the Government of Pakistan to accelerate the implementation of IDSR system in the country.

The IDSR platform encourages and promotes collaboration and networking among district health officers, surveillance teams, data focal persons, and partners to strengthen the IDSR system.

They discussed quality and compliance of the IDSR data and identified challenges besides discussing associated potential solutions for future IDSR implementation in order to outline key steps to enhance the IDSR system’s efficiency in future.

During the meeting, the representatives from all provinces and regions shared detailed presentations on the progress related to IDSR and their individual challenges, which were jointly deliberated for making improvements in the health system.

Balochistan IDSR focal person Dr. Aabad Khan Acakzai informed the audience about the steady progress made on IDSR in the province, resulting in 86% of the primary and secondary health facilities reporting on IDSR-related diseases weekly.

In his presentation, Dr Abdul Salam from GB shared improvements due to implementation of IDSR in the region as staff is trained in all districts and they exhibit enhanced realization of surveillance and response data.

Dr Sidra representing Punjab highlighted how DDSRUs are operational in all the districts and PDSRU at the office of DGHS is spearheading the IDSR implementation. While presenting the progress, she informed these units have the required expertise and highly skilled data analysts have been deputed to support the government in data-driven decision making.

Dr. Nadeem Gondal presented the progress from ICT as focal person of Health Department and illuminated about the mandate to work in rural areas and in the wake of Covid-19 and dengue, started to take preventive and curative measures in both rural and urban areas.

Dr Asif Syed from Sindh revealed that the province has a well-established IDSR system and the data is reported, analyzed and presented in the form of weekly bulletins from more than 80 percent of the districts.

While DDSRUs have been established in all districts of AJK, Dr Jawad Kiyani as IDSR focal person, presented that there are still gaps in provision of all the resources for optimal functionality of these units and that UKHSA has supported the Government of AJK to roll out the IDSR training for all of its primary and secondary healthcare facilities.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was represented by Dr Bilal Bahrawar who highlighted that in the second phase, the province is gearing up to conduct training of tertiary care hospital along with major private hospitals and private laboratories.

Concluding the meeting, Dr. Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of UK Health Security Agency, reiterated the significance of strengthening the IDSR system and sharing of knowledge between the two countries, particularly, Pakistan’s experience in fighting the impacts of climate change on health systems.

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