Pak Covid-19 scare was big; so is success | By Haider Ali


Pak Covid-19 scare was big; so is success

IT came, it saw, it conquered. Such was the situation last year when the Coronavirus wreaked havoc across the world, Pakistan being no exception. The influx of passengers and the government approach was lampooned.

The Coronavirus was used by some who acted like scaremongers. One year down the road and boom, we are left with nothing but to praise the government for having acted wisely.

There was an impasse over when the lockdown should be enforced and when it should be lifted.

There was the Sindh Government and the Federal Government on both sides; frankly speaking, both were right.

While the Sindh regime feared casualties, the federal regime thought of casualties due to economic woes. Fast forward to this day and we see that the Covid-19 has gone down in Pakistan.

Some give credit to the heavenly blessings for the low positivity ratio while some think the government needs to be patted on the back.

I am sure that the steps taken by the government were effective; hands down, the government is to be given the credit, simply look at the vaccination being carried out across the country.

Starting from importing the vaccine to administering it, the government has utilized three most important tools: (i) Data (ii) Evidence based policy making & (iii) Technology.

This trio has helped the government overcome the Covid-19 and save the future generations by providing the vaccine.

In a country where the public sector is seen as the epicentre of all ills, the masses are satisfied with the government over the vaccination drive. It is smooth, transparent and swift. Gone are the days when you could avail the public facilities by having some well-placed reference in the public sector.

Considering this vaccine to be a life saver, the public sector has performed exceptionally well last year as far as vaccine is concerned.

The integration of technology with data has provided the government with the ability to make evidence based policy.

For instance, lockdown and smart lockdown was imposed looking at the data regarding the positivity ratio. This was all possible due to digital mapping and careful analysis.

The National Command and Control Centre for Covid-19 is a testament to the fact that a broad-based coordination can help us overcome all the major challenges.

With scarce resources and machinery not equipped to deal with giant challenges, Pakistan pulled off a success story before the world.

The untiring efforts of health workers aided by the local administration under the ambit of policy decisions helped Pakistan turn the tide. The calamity is huge as Pakistan also lost thousands of lives, however, the projections say it could be worst.

This success story cannot be compared with any recent one, except if the previous Punjab regime is to be given the credit for capping the spread of the Dengue Virus.

In that case, the regime had experience of handling it for the first year when the virus claimed hundreds of lives.

Anyhow, the next year, the government sprang into action and took policy measures. The current regime had no prior experience for handling Covid-19.

Having beaten the trumpet success, Pakistan needs to learn the lesson that technology integrated into policy making can help us overcome other challenges as well.

The faltering economy could be seen in the backdrop of tax collection which could be improved by technological intervention.

The healthcare system could be improved by digital mapping of diseases and removing the root causes.

The literacy gaps can be improved by introducing audio-visual aids. Name any challenge and technology would act as a saviour as it did in the face of Covid-19.

The government handled the pandemic extraordinarily well and should continue to rely on technology for bigger challenges which are way smaller than this one and can be handled over a period of time with no sense of urgency. The Coronavirus has taught us lessons; we just need to recall them.

—The writer is a Section officer at Ministry of Industries and Production.