ISLAMABAD                 -             Pakistan yesterday told a special video conference

of the SAARC-member

states that  South Asia was  particularly vulnerable

amid the coronavirus pandemic,Pakistan organized the SAARC Health Ministers’ Video Conference on Covid-

19. All Member States and the SAARC Secretary General, Esala Ruwan Weerakoon participated in the conference.Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Services and Regulations Dr. Zafar Mirza chaired the meeting.   Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Minister

for Health and Indigenous

Medical Services of Sri Lanka; Nabraj Raut, State Minister for Health and Population of Nepal; Dr. Wahid Majrooh, Deputy

Minister for Healthcare

Services of Afghanistan;

Dr. Ugen Dophu, Secretary Health of Bhutan,

Prof. Dr. Abul Kalam Azad, Director General of Health Services of Bangladesh;

Maimoona Aboobakuru,

Director General of Public Health of Maldives;

and Professor Rajiv

Garg, Director General

of Health Services of India led their respective delegations.Issues including real-

time sharing of information

and clinical data, capacity building and training of medical and paramedical staff, supply of medicines and medical equipment, research coordination

and enhancing

cooperation with frontline international

organizations including

the WHO came under discussion.Sharing Pakistan’s perspective,

Minister of State for Health, Dr Zafar

Mirza underscored that South Asia was particularly

vulnerable on account of its high population

densities, fragile health systems and rudimentary

disease surveillance.

The uncertainties South Asia  particularly vulnerable to corona, Pakistan tells SAARC mootPakistan hosts SAARC health ministers’ video conference; issues including real-time sharing of information and clinical data, capacity building and training of medical and paramedical staff, supply of medicines and medical equipment discussedassociated with the outbreak

had left no room for complacency. However,

it also posed an opportunity

for South Asia to strengthen health systems.

Mirza briefed the participants

about the containment

and relief measures being taken by Pakistan. He highlighted Pakistan’s

strategy of smart lockdowns aimed at containing

the virus, while ensuring that economic

activity was minimally

impeded. Participants agreed to work together

to adopt international

best practices keeping

in view the specific socio-economic circumstances

of South Asia. All heads of delegations presented

their country situations

and efforts to contain the outbreak at national levels.Proposals to fast-track creation of linkages among medical universities,

academia and research

institutions came under review. During the meeting, Pakistan

proposed greater

coordination among health authorities of SAARC Member States in the context of combating the pandemic and in this regard, suggested activating

the SAARC Technical

Committee on Health and Population Activities.

It was agreed to enhance

cooperation in the health sector, particularly

in the context of efforts to combat the virus at the regional level.The Health Ministers’ Video Conference was a reaffirmation of Pakistan’s

commitment to the SAARC process and its efforts to forge closer

cooperation among Member States in situations

such as the Covid-

19 pandemic.All member states and the SAARC Secretary General appreciated Pakistan’s

timely