In the wake of the Corovirus pandemic leaders of SAARC nations met via video conference on Sunday to discuss measures to stop the spread of the virus. Pakistan was represented in the conference by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza. Other SAARC countries were represented by the respective heads of State or Heads of Governments.
Addressing the South Asian leaders Dr Zafar Mirza said Covid-19 Pandemic is a global health emergency, the likes of which have not been witnessed in the past century. At the same time, while it has been characterized as a global pandemic, it is deemed “controllable” as well. Least of all SAARC, which is home to one-fifth of humanity, several of the world’s largest mega-cities, and many of the most densely populated regions, he added.
Dr Mirza said Pakistan shares the common concern over the potential of Covid-19 affecting South Asia. All our countries now have confirmed cases. Dr Mirza said WHO’s four-pronged advice offers a reasonable way forward- preparation and readiness, detection, prevention and treatment, reduction and suppression, and innovation and improvement. He said Pakistan has been involved in containment efforts right from the outset of the outbreak.
“We have been alert to the dangers, and have put in place appropriate protocols for the safety and health of our people” he added. SAPM on Health said we have been matching our measures to real-time threat assessments. While, we have stressed the need for caution, we have strongly advised against panic. A calm and deliberate response is the need for the hour, In consultation with WHO, we have been taking steps to restrict movement to and from the affected areas, regulate lights, institute detection measures at entry points, and establish quarantine controls at border crossings Diagnosed cases are being quarantined, and contacts traced proactively.
Dr. Mirza shared that Prime Minister Imran Khan is personally overseeing these efforts. Resultantly, Pakistan has managed so far to contain, an achievement the WHO has recognized and commended. Our National Security Committee met on 13 March, for the first time on a national health issue, and has decided to take further steps to contain the spread he informed.
The four pillars of our response strategy include Governance and Finance, Prevention, Mitigation, and Communication. Dr Zafar Mirza mentioning the steps taken by Pakistan Government said we have decided to close all educational institutions for three weeks, close the entire western border for two weeks, restrict international flights to three airports only, ban all public gatherings, and reinforce screening and administrative measures at seaports.
The National Disaster Management Authority has been mandated to lead the inter-agency effort at the federal and provincial levels he said. Effective coordination at all levels is deemed critically important. The pandemic forces us to think not in terms of nations and States, but as a collective. The unprecedented challenge, therefore, warrants unprecedented responses. We must recognize that national and local responses remain the most critically important.
It is equally important to pursue evidence and science-based responses. Stigmatization and stereotyping are counter-productive. The SAARC Secretariat is best placed to coordinate SAARC’s endeavours With this in view, Pakistan proposes that the SAARC Secretariat be mandated to establish a Working Group of respective national authorities for information and data exchange as well as coordination for responses in real-time, learn from and disseminate the experience of SAARC Observer States, particularly China that is effectively addressing the challenge and can share valuable insights. The challenge at hand, demands sagacity, vision and synergy stressed Pakistan SAPM on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza.
Human Organ Trade in Global Perspective
Human Organ Trade has become a lucrative business in the black market as some medical professionals, Nurses and middlemen are involved in this malpractice putting the lives of vulnerable poor people at risk .
Even some poverty-ridden communities sell their organs to feed their children and cover their domestic costs. The Middlemen sell the organs in millions of dollars while offering peanuts to the organ sellers.
Though , there are strict restrictions in place on such illegal practices globally, yet the Organ Trafficking continues unabatedly throughout the world especially in Africa, Asia and the countries where poverty ratio is relatively high and the nations hit by political turmoil and instability .
Iran is the only country where organ transplant has state permission and everyone can buy and sell organs as per WHO reports. Iran’s economy has been paralyzed due to strict US economic sanctions. The other reasons of trafficking may be the maximum number of unemployment, bad governance, backwardness, illiteracy and poverty that prompts people to sell their organs such as Liver, kidney etc to support their family and children during hard times. Human Organ trafficking has also been prevented in UN resolutions .
Some analysts are of the view that there are some organized International groups having networks operating globally who exploit the poor segments to sell their organs by offering huge amounts of money and sell the same in lucrative International markets pocketing millions of dollars in so-called illegal Human organ Trade.
There are bitter facts about these malpractices that some well-known Medical Practitioners and Hospitals are running this secret business and playing havoc with the precious lives of the Poor people disregarding the laws in place or Human rights.
The Asian countries such as India, Iran and Pakistan have a high level of cases especially related to bonded labour and Brick Kiln Workers whose wages are withheld by the owners and compelling them to sell their organs to cover their debts ,daily livelihood and Health costs since no health insurance facility is provided to these poor brick kiln workers.
The African countries are relatively facing economic challenges, Political upheavals , rampant corruption, poor law and order situation . As a result of such issues , there is a high ratio of unemployment and lack of business opportunities.
These vulnerable poor communities are lured and trapped by Organ Trafficking Mafia by offering millions of dollars and depriving them of their organs such as Kidney, Liver etc.
The countries like Nigeria, Egypt, Philippines, Iran, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh have fallen prey to these Organ Trafficking mafias and despite some restrictions imposed by health Regulatory bodies worldwide including WHO, the Organ Trade and Transplantation continue unabated around the world regardless of any ban or legal issues as these mafias enjoy support from strongmen in power corridors and continue their illegal Organ Sale and Purchase business pocketing millions of dollars in black-markets while paying peanuts to organ sellers.
Despite UN general Assembly Resolutions against Human Organ Trafficking, the practice continues globally putting human rights at risk especially in Asian, African countries where poverty monster is gobbling the poor by compelling them to take an unethical decision that may prove disastrous in the Long run .
The international Health body (WHO) Study, as well as the related media reports, have revealed shocking facts that most of human organ trafficking cases happened with African Migrant Refugees in Egypt, Libya, as they were compelled to sell their Organs for the sake of livelihood as migrants, had limited citizenry rights in Egypt.
Human Organ trafficking and transplantation cases were reported in great numbers in Egypt as there were 250000 cases and the majority of them were related to migrant African refugee as reported by WHO report.
The study also revealed that most of the transplantation cases were related to persons with drug addiction, diabetic patients and the rich people who are used to alcoholic drinks that damaged their kidneys and immune system.
These patients were the forerunners in the purchase of notorious human organs to save their lives and feed the huge chunk of the funds to the hospitals conducting transplants in India, Iran, Pakistan, China, Egypt and Other parts of the world.
According to WHO, the cost of Transplantation varies from the country to country and region to region but the average cost ranges from $30000 -$40000 US dollars for Kidney related transplantation. The Organ trade is reported to have touched $160000 in international markets by so-called middlemen and doctors.
These facts are very shocking to the extent that even after costly organ Transplantation, 70% to 78% of patients reported health and physical complications in India, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt and other African Nations.
India leads in Transplantation cases in Asia as it has a network of Organ Transplantation Hospitals serving internal and external citizens. Pakistan has also Organ Transplantation Hospitals both in Public and Private sector the Prominent ones are SIUT, GIMS, Shifa, AKU, Ziauddin Hospitals. But these hospitals conduct transplants surgeries by authorized family donors for their blood relations.
It is good to step that Pakistan has established Human Organ Transplant Authority (HOTA)to regulate the transplant practices and maintain dignity especially organs donated by deceased people in their will to help people such as visually impaired.
Though UN has adopted various resolutions against Human organ Trafficking Globally, yet all the member nations must frame laws to regulate Transplants and ban illegal organ trafficking done by some nefarious Groups and individuals risking the lives of the poor segments of society by exploiting their needs, wants, hardships and compelling them to sell their organs to these unscrupulous people who have no regard for humanity or dignity of people.
These criminals have established well-organized networks, the International Police (Interpol) may be tasked to burst and break their global network.
Back in 2018, Egyptian criminal court had sentenced over 37 persons including Doctors, nurses Medical Staff and Middlemen involved in the illegal trade of Human Organs. They were captured in the raid on a tip-off and millions of dollars were retrieved from them. The investigation heralds serious revelations that how these malafide groups operate globally having no regard for humanity.
The news reports confirm that Egypt is reportedly a big market for organ sale as people sell their body organs to wealthy foreigners for illegal riches and perks offered to them and the middlemen facilitate such deals thwarting International law and human rights.
The Human organ trafficking is a global issue and all the countries should be united to frame strict laws and put strict restrictions on those concerned with health systems such as doctors, nurses and medical professionals to stop such illegal practices by awarding exemplary hard punishments who are found involved in such inhuman and illegal organ trade.
There is a great need to establish A global Body of UN to control, Contain and Prevent Illegal Human Organ trade to save the vulnerable communities falling prey to these wealthy Foreigners who risk the lives of poor communities by luring them with some hard cash and play with their precious lives.
Some organ sellers shared sad stories that how their organs were stolen from their body without their consent on free treatment offers. Illegal Organ trade has been a global issue and the timely steps of UN and member states can help contain this menace and protect underprivileged people from the grip of these nefarious people.
Global Socio-Economic Impact of Covid-19
The Pandemic originating from Wuhan China has enveloped the whole world and the catastrophe caused by covid-19 is beyond speculation. Schools, Colleges, Universities and business are closed for an indefinite period and the World has gone into self-isolation while the countries imposed lockdown in the world in the severely hit areas to contain the outbreak at massive scale.
The pandemic has affected all the countries especially China, France, Italy, Germany, US, UK, Iran, Egypt and third world countries i.e Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan and some African countries.
There are some countries which are severely impacted socially and economically while some countries have sustained moderate impact owing to taking timely preventive measures as per circulated guidelines of WHO and Local Health ministries of respective Countries.
With President Donald Trump clipping the wings of UN’s apex health body by cutting the financial support amid the Global Pandemic, the catastrophe is expected to go from bad to worse as WHO will experience the funds’ shortage that will ultimately contribute to a deep humanitarian crisis.
The world posts a bleak picture already as all business activities have been suspended, the markets have been closed for an indefinite period, the stock markets crashed and the unemployment ratio suddenly jumped to historical high due to covid-19 Pandemic. Even OPEC members have decided to cut the oil production given the pandemic situation.
The Global economy has been severely impacted by the shocks of the deadly virus that prompted companies like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Face book, Twitter to ask their employees to work from home to avoid contracting Covid-19.
All the industries have been impacted badly that include entertainment, Sports, food franchise has completely shutdown creating panicking situation all around as once busiest streets and markets have started presenting deserted look.
This global economic warrants that if the early remedy to cure covid-19 is not discovered, the future will be dreadful to predict. The mighty economies such as China, the US, France, Italy, UK, Germany has been seriously impacted by this deadly virus. The situation is haunting the people around the world, bringing misery of greater proportion as compared to Word War II, Ebola, SARS, MERS, Plage and Yaws.
The Daily Wage workers, Private workers, drivers, hawkers, shop keepers and thousands of similar workers have lost their jobs and the opportunity to earn their livelihood. The companies have preferred work from home option for their employees to limit the outbreak and avoid contracting covid-19.
It is alarming that hundreds of workers have filed as unemployed. The lengthy lockdowns have created serious humanitarian and economic crises and the experts are of the view that the circumstances are fast moving towards the global recessions and may take a long time to recover from this catastrophe.
Though China has been able to contain Covid-19 and even lifted restrictions on outgoing flights with some strict SOPs, yet the Covid 19 seems to be an invisible predator waiting for its prey regardless of any region. The virus has impacted all the zones i.e with the cooler, hotter or moderate atmosphere.
The only solution to fight this pandemic is social distancing, maintaining the hygienic environment and avoiding crowdy spaces. The Governments around the world have imposed strict lockdowns and the frontline fighters (Health workers) around the world doing a marvellous job to protect their fellowmen even at the cost of falling prey to this deadly virus.
While fighting this pandemic. Many health workers have been tested positive. Even, some frontline soldiers lost their fight to this pandemic and laid down their lives to secure the future of their respective country.
Education is being imparted through digital platforms as online education is increasing for students. Though students are facing some issues such as the connectivity, Sound quality, Video Quality, yet in this emergency, the Schools, Colleges, Universities and other online course websites are striving to provide some light of Knowledge in these difficult times.
The booming industries such as restaurants, hotels, motels and Aviation have been closed for an indefinite period.
Unfortunately, despite 151598 deaths worldwide and over 2.21 Million confirmed cases covid-19, all eyes are hooked towards the discovery of vaccine to treat the patients and save their lives. At the moment, only plasma therapy is being conducted and some common medicines are being used such as cough, flu fever-related medicine.
Though human trials have been started by some Pharmaceutical companies, the experts are of the view that it may take one and half year for the vaccine to be available in the market. It is also estimated to be the costliest vaccine ever keeping in view its global implications and rapid speed of pandemic spread in the world.
It is estimated that Europe, Asia, Middle East to suffer a lot especially, Italy, France, UK, Iran and US as the ratio of deaths is higher than other countries especially US where average deaths per days have surpassed all other nations that prompted Trump to cut funding to world health Organization accusing it of mishandling the pandemic and delayed response to mitigate its implication while WHO head has refuted the allegations.
The covid-19 has also impacted Sports, News & Media, Entertainment and Services Industries to the extent that. All the sporting events have been suspended, series and Leagues have been rescheduled and big events such as PSL, IPL, FIFA World Cup, Olympics Games and others have been completely cancelled raising concerns among the players. Even the players are facing the trauma having travel history to the epicentre of Covid-19 Pandemic and tested positive.
The Entertainment industry has been heavily impacted as all the dramas, Films and comedy shooting and recording has been postponed till indefinite period and all the events including concerts have cancelled due to covid-19 and actors have lost the source of living.
Finally, the Print and Electronic Media are partially impacted though they are a very vulnerable community as they have been busy in coverage of the pandemic around the world and are prone to contracting the deadly virus due to close contact with Patients at Quarantine Centres and the Health specialists working at the hospital and temporary health centres specially set up for an emergency.
The Print Media has been hit hard as people consider it risky to read a Print copy of newspapers over covid-19 fears and prefer paper or online edition of the newspapers. Hence, such a trend has impacted the Newspaper Sales badly.
On the other hand, electronic media such as News Channels, Radio and Digital Media such as Websites, YouTube are grabbing people’ attention.
The Social Media is also buzzing with Covid-19 updates though Social Media and Silicon Valley companies have asked their employees to work from home and follow the preventive measures these include Twitter, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft and Search Giant Google.
The world should be united to fight this global pandemic that is haunting the world. The US should release funds to help WHO work effectively for global health and expedite the process of vaccine discovery as each day will deprive the near and dear ones of the families around the world. With collaborative efforts, the world can win this war against the pandemic.
Coronavirus Pandemic and Global Response
The World is undergoing serious economic, social and health crisis as the Covid-19 outbreak originating from Wuhan China, has spread to almost all the continents of the World except Antarctica – the Unhabitated Continent.
Hundreds of People died in china, Iran, France, South Korea and Italy. Italy has been severely gripped by a coronavirus. The Covid-19 after bringing catastrophe in Asia reached Europe and Africa.
Though Africa has limited cases as reported but given the alarming and catastrophic situation rising every day. The South Asian countries i.e. Pakistan, India, Bangladesh though ill-prepared to fight against this Pandemic have done a tremendous job in terms of preparations and taking preventive measures to limit the spread of the fatal Covid-19.
As hundreds of cases are reported positive, fear, economic crisis, education and health effects have played havoc to the countries to fight Covid-19. The World Health Organizations (WHO) has declared it pandemic asking countries to follow the precaution or preventive measures as circulated by WHO and Isolation facilities for those diagnosed positive.
The States have started diverting their funds towards fighting this novel Virus and having set up Emergency Health Centers and Isolation Centers for quarantining those arriving from worst-affected countries i.e. China, Iran, France, America and Italy.
Sindh has been the worst affected by this Virus with 146 confirmed cases as most of the cases are imported from Iran via Taftan.
These include those pilgrims (Zairian) who are returning from Iran after visiting holy places. CM Sindh has so far done a marvelous job by setting up Isolation and Screening Camp at Sukkur to diagnose and keep them at the facility to avert any possibility of contraction to their families.
KP stands second with sudden appearance 19 cases since these confirmed cases are also imported through Taftan border as the affected patients had recently returned from a pilgrimage from Iran. Baluchistan is on 3rd Number with 10 confirmed cases, GB 3 and Islamabad capital with 04 cases. Fortunately, there is any case in AJK.
The media is regularly breaking and updating news every moment regarding the novel coronavirus, adding the rise to the concerns regarding the sudden outbreak of the pandemic to more countries. The concerns and feelings of fear run high amid cancellations and postponement of all sporting activities, education, colleges, universities and Wedding or public gatherings.
Companies such as Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Microsoft and Apple have advised their employees to stay at home and work from their home. They also circulated the WHO guidelines among their employees and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people as announced in the latest guidelines of WHOM.
Countries are strictly following the preventive measures communicated to the people by WHO experts and putting bans on unnecessary travel in the city or out of city or borders.
It is the alarming and panicking situation since No vaccine nor has injection been made to treat those affected with the novel coronavirus. WHO cautions the countries having limited facilities to conduct tests and treat the patients advising states around the world especially the Asia and Europe to take preventive measures until the vaccine to treat this deadly virus could be discovered by Medical scientists and microbiologists?
At the moment Covid-19 has caused more deaths than Ebola outbreak in African countries, especially in Congo. According to reports that as per, the calculations based on the Center of disease control, the scenarios suggested that as many as 2.4 million to 21 million people in the U.S. could require hospitalization, potentially crushing the nation’s medical system, which has only about 925,000 staffed hospital beds as reported by Media.
The number is very low to house the huge number of affected people from covid-19. It may bring a panicking situation in a developed country like the USA. Less than a tenth of those are for people who are critically ill.
It would be disastrous to deal with the pandemic given the Medical facilities available at the US and the African states.
At the moment, China is the worst hit with 3800 deaths due to novel coronavirus followed by Italy with 1800 deaths, South Korea with 75 deaths, Iran with 600 deaths.
Luckily, the situation Africa is under control since so far there are a few reported cases but there is no confirmation of the Virus cases yet.
The African nations have started preparations for fighting this deadly virus, they have one advantage of fighting with the Ebola virus and the lessons learnt from dealing with that epidemic such health and hygiene requirements.
Though African countries have limited resources and facilities yet they have started following the WHO Precautionary measures to deal with Possible outbreak of the deadly virus that has spread all over the world.
Its implications are dreadful and catastrophic for the world at large. The world has been struggling to deal with this pandemic as Schools, colleges, universities, restaurants; religious Places have been shut over the fears of this Pandemic.
People are advised through the media campaigns and instructions circulated by WHO to adopt the precautionary measures to remain safe from this disease. Though the symptoms include fever, cough, close breathing affecting lungs, the precautionary material is being aired on Media to apprise people of this deadly virus that has been spreading at a massive scale.
Unfortunately, the medical scientists and microbiologists have not been able to discover any antidote to control it from the spread and contain it. Even WHO appears to be helpless against this disease rather circulated precautionary measures to remain on the safe side until a vaccine could be made for the treatment of the virus?
The physicians have been advising the common treatment for fever such as Paracetmol ,cough syrup and self-isolation to recover from this pandemic as preventive measure .
Till date, there are 100 reported cases in African Countries with two deaths happened in Morocco and Egypt each.
According to statistics of WHO the Country wise break up of reported cases of Virus covid-19: Algeria -20, Burkina Faso-2, Cameron-2, Democratic Republic of Congo -1, Egypt highest number of cases -59 includes one death, Morocco -3 with one death, Nigeria 2, Senegal 4, South Africa -13, Tunisia -5 and Togo -1. So far, the situation in African countries is normal only Egypt has the maximum number of cases reported.
The African Countries have been well prepared to contain the outbreak that has played havoc around the world specifically in Asian countries i.e. China, Iran and Europe. There are at least 150000 reported cases worldwide and over 6000 deaths owing to this deadly virus including 3600 deaths in china alone following by 1800 deaths in Italy.
The Ebola Experience has enabled the African nations to develop a comprehensive plan to fight this Novel Corona Virus. There are about 100 cases have been reported in 11 African Countries while there were only two deaths.
Most of the cases in Egypt are those passengers who had travelled from abroad and the crew members of the ship coming from the countries which are being worst or moderately affected by the deadly coronavirus. The reported cases are just imported out of Africa as there is not any domestic viral outbreak.
However, apart from the rest of world, African states have done a tremendous job to contain Covid-19 by adopting strict preventive measures by completely banning Travel from the countries which are the worst affected by the Corona Virus.
In this connection, Rwanda has not reported any case, yet it has advised the citizens to maintain hygiene in the country. Rwanda has installed hand Washing Taps and sanitizers to defeat the viral outbreak in the country.
Similarly, Kenya has not reported any cases, yet it has established the 120-bed Quarantine centre and two Testing facilities at Nairobi.
Nigeria has also made mandatory to use hand sanitizers while visiting banks, restaurants, Office and supermarkets to limit the spread of deadly Novel Corona Virus.
Even several health workers have been deployed by the Government of Nigeria at the international Airports to screen the passengers to avert any possibility of a contracting virus.
According to News reports that the Experience of Nigeria’s dealing with the Ebola Virus has enabled the African Nations to adopt the preventive measures to limit the contraction of Novel Coronavirus in the country.
All the Airline companies have suspended their flights over the fears of Covid-19 that include Rwanda Air, Kenyan Airlines, and Royal Air Morocco.
They have learnt that hand washing is the first line of defence against any viruses. The case studies of Ebola have furthered their defence.
On the other hand, China has been able to overcome the outbreak by bringing the number to single digits. WHO has also recommended learning from China how it faces this pandemic.
Chinese Experience should be utilized to help control the pandemic in Italy as it has been worst hit by Covid-19 where the death toll crossed 1800 People and Iran 600 people.
Even WHO should take experts from African countries, China and Europe to develop a strategy to fight this pandemic. The pandemic has been contracted in India with confirmed cases of 107, Pakistan with confirmed cases of 189 as per the latest information available. The numbers are constantly growing increasing concerns of people regarding the preparedness of various nations against this Pandemic.
Though, the cases reported and confirmed in South Asia are mainly those who travelled to Iran, Syria, and China. There is so far no confirmed case of domestic nature or any death. Even, there is no death reported yet in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
Luckily, after a long time, SAARC Leadership held the online Video conference to exchange level of readiness against this Novel Corona Virus. The Video Conference was held on the request of Indian PM Narendra Modi. Dr Zafar Mirza proposed a regional Mechanism to fight covid-19 and even demanded to lift Curfew in IOK over the concerns of Novel Corona Virus.
Finally, it is essential to follow WHO prescriptions to remain secure until the vaccine could be developed for this deadly virus. Medical experts claim that the vaccine may take 18 Months to be available to fight this Pandemic.
WHO has cautioned the developing countries around the world to take preventive measure to prevent people from falling prey this pandemic especially those who have limited resources and ill-prepared to fight this Deadly Covid-19 effectively.
The Circumstances in Sindh are very alarming, Government of Pakistan must take strong measures of screening at Taftan border with the composition of experts from Health Ministry both Public and Private Sector to fight this Pandemic and contain it from spreading rapidly.
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