WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a recent press briefing remarked that Pakistan has used the infrastructure it developed in its fight against polio to tackle COVID-19.
The other countries mentioned by the WHO chief are Thailand, Italy, Mongolia, Mauritius, Uruguay.
Pakistan has seen a steady decline in the number of positive cases in the past few weeks after which the government lifted most of the country’s remaining coronavirus restrictions.
To date, Pakistan has reported 300,361 cases and 6,370 fatalities while over 280,000 have recovered from the virus.
Former health minister Dr Zafar Mirza has hailed the remarks by the WHO chief and said it is a “great honour” for the people of Pakistan.
Mirza had supervised Pakistan’s COVID-19 response before resigning from the post in July.
In a detailed briefing on the current pandemic situation and how the countries are fighting the virus, Dr Tedros mentioned that Thailand has benefited from 40 years of health system strengthening. About Italy, he said that the country “took hard decisions based on the evidence and persisted with them”. He also added that unity and solidarity, along with the dedication of health workers, contributed in bringing the outbreak under control.
For Uruguay, he said that the country has one of the most ‘robust and resilient’ health systems in Latin America which helped it overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
The WHO chief also singled out Mongolia for quickly activating its State Emergency Committee in January. In the case of Mauritius, he said that the country used its previous experience with contact-tracing and a swift response to manage high-risk issues – high population density, high rate of non-communicable diseases and lots of international travellers.
WHO chief urged countries to invest in public health to build a “foundation of social, economic and political stability”. He also acknowledged that significant progress has been made in medicine but warned that too many countries have neglected their public health systems.
“Part of every country’s commitment to build back better must therefore be to invest in public health, as an investment in a healthier and safer future,” said the WHO chief.