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How WHO And Wuhan Medics Geared Up To Fight Coronavirus

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Abdul Qayyum Kundi writes about World Health Organisation (WHO)’s role in containing the outbreak of coronavirus across the world.

I am generally critical of the UN as an ineffective body that has failed to deliver on its charter to contain aggression of larger states against smaller ones. But I have also maintained that UN subsidiary organisations like UNHCR, UNESCO, and WHO have played a very positive role. The outbreak of the corona pandemic has proved this point yet again.

Right from the early days of the corona outbreak, when it was considered an epidemic, the WHO has taken a lead role in informing the people around the world. Their daily briefings have helped kill the false and fake news as well as contained the spread of rumors. Their tone and tenor in the press briefings are neither alarming nor laid back.

They focus on facts and inform members states about the possible steps they have to take to protect their citizens. They had warned that governments should not brush the matter aside and take proactive steps to be prepared for it. Those countries that did not pay heed to their advice, for example, Italy, have paid a heavy price in the spread of infections and loss of life. I request all Pakistani news channels to broadcast live the daily briefing of WHO officials.

The usefulness of WHO has made it clear that a world coordinating body can help in fighting a pandemic or epidemic. I recommend that a world health fund should be established, under the mandate of WHO, to help member countries improve their health condition especially preventive measures like availability of clean water, better sanitation, healthy diet, neonatal care, and rural health development. They should also help in the standardization of healthcare and global approval of generic drugs.

Wuhan, in China, was the first place where the coronavirus emerged. There are unconfirmed reports that the virus transitioned from wildlife to human carriers. It is still not clear how the virus developed. After the initial missteps, the Wuhan health administration took a drastic measure to contain the spread of the virus to other parts of China and the world.

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Doctors and nurses worked tirelessly to attend to patients. Many of them lost their own lives but they prevented a larger number of deaths. We should be thankful to these Wuhan medics that taught the world how to deal with this pandemic. Many countries benefited from the experience of Wuhan healthcare professionals.

If I could then I would not hesitate to nominate WHO and Wuhan Medics for Nobel prize in peace or medicine. They deserve to be appreciated. President Trump’s criticism of China to deal with it is unjustified and does not help the world community.

I was the first person to suggest that sanctions against Iran should be suspended to help them deal with the coronavirus crisis. China and Russia have already announced their support for the ease of these sanctions. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announced that he supports the lifting of sanctions on Iran. I am grateful that the government of Pakistan has taken the diplomatic initiative to contact European countries to seek support for it.

Now about Pakistan. There is increasing pressure on the federal government to announce a countrywide lockdown. No country has made such announcements and I think it is irrational. The federal government has already announced the closure of airports to international flights. They have also closed borders with Iran and can announce the same for Afghanistan, India, and China.

These lockdowns should focus on areas where the virus has already infected people as well as densely populated cities where the propensity to spread is much higher. Citizens should voluntarily restrict their movements. Many people can work from home as almost the whole country has access to the internet and personal computer. In factories, production workers can maintain a safe distance. Wealthy people should provide financial support to the day labor so they do not face hardship and can stay home during this time of crisis.

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We all can fight this pandemic by being mindful of others around us. There are enough resources to share and prevent this deadly virus to kill the human spirit to survive and thrive.

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