PR No. 178 Health Minister lauds the role of Public Health professionals in outbreak Response Islamabad

Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar presiding over 11th Annual Disease Surveillance and Outbreak Response course said Public Health Professionals were playing a commendable role in disease surveillance and in responding to outbreaks across the country. This training is a major step in Federal Government’s mission to build capacity of public health professionals of all provinces in carrying out effective disease surveillance and response to disease outbreaks throughout Pakistan.

During the recent years, we in Pakistan faced enormous challenges associated with massive outbreaks of Chikungunya in 2016 and 2017, Measles epidemics 2017, rain havoc in many parts of the country. We are now engaged in a major fight against polio and whole world is expecting a lot from us. All of these challenges have necessitated the need to greatly enhance the national capacity of disease surveillance, outbreak detection and response. While She was addressing the Certificate Distribution Ceremony 11th Annual Disease Surveillance and Outbreak Response Course.

Minister said major step taken by FELTP is establishment of Federal and Provincial and Regional Diseases Surveillance and Outbreak Response Units. As all four provinces have notified these units show how provinces see the need of these units which will not only provide practical trainings to their public health doctors in disease outbreak response but could also act as Emergency Operation Centers. Through FELTP fellows provinces for the first time will have a group of public health doctors properly trained to quickly detect and respond to disease threats quickly to protect Pakistanis from major disease outbreaks. Now it’s the responsibility of us all at federal and provincial health departments to support this initiative and provide enabling environment to these new units to make them an effective tool in our fight against diseases. These units have responded to 120 outbreaks in first 7 months of 2017 and thousands of children have been protected of resulting vaccination.

Minister said Surveillance is the best way to detect and control disease outbreaks. Moreover, it also allows preventive measures to be put in place before full-scale epidemics occur. The recent large scale epidemics across Pakistan have highlighted some critical gaps in the post devolution surveillance and response arrangements which are being seriously looked in to. Additionally, as a responsible member of the international community we are also striving to quickly beef up our IHR implementation arrangements so as to detect, respond, identify and report the public health events of national and international concern.

Minister further said Currently, the Ministry of NHSR&C is revitalizing its efforts to put in place an Integrated Disease Surveillance & Response System along with Public Health Laboratories Network in coordination with the relevant provincial health departments. A new ‘Division of Field Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance’ has been established at NIH is the first step in this direction. This is also an important step for the institutionalization of FELTP in Pakistan.

Minister reiterated the commitment of the Government of Pakistan to its agenda of strengthening the public health sector through the concerted and coordinated efforts of all national and international stake holders and assure full support for all the initiatives being undertaken by FELTP Pakistan.