ISLAMABAD: A health forum of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has urged its member states to enhance cooperation for fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and mitigating its impact.
A statement issued at the conclusion of an emergency virtual meeting of the OIC-Steering Committee on Health at the health ministers’ level called on “the OIC countries to exchange more information, experiences and capabilities to combat Covid-19 pandemic,” according to a statement issued by the Foreign Office on Friday.
Pakistan was represented at the meeting by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza. Other countries whose representatives attended the meeting through video link were Saudi Arabia, UAE, Maldives, Mauritania, Chad, Turkey, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia and Sudan. Representatives of OIC organs, including president of the Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDB Group) and a number of international organisations, also participated in the conference.
The rampaging pandemic has affected a large number of Muslim countries. Iran, Turkey and Pakistan are the top three most affected OIC members. There were 117,000 active cases in just these three countries as of Friday. Simulations show that the virus could spread exponentially in the Muslim world because of weak health systems.
It is feared that these countries are likely to be severely hit by social and economic fallout of the pandemic as they struggle to contain the spread of the disease. Experts fear that a global recession triggered by Covid-19 could particularly hit the OIC member states, many of whom already have weak economies.
OIC Secretary General Dr Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen asked the member states to take immediate and decisive measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. He expressed the OIC’s readiness to utilise its available resources to help the peoples of the Islamic world in these difficult times and appreciated initiatives taken by the IsDB and the Islamic Solidarity Fund.
The IsDB has set up a special ‘Strategic Preparedness and Response Facility’ worth $2.3 billion to mitigate the health and socio-economic impact of the pandemic under which it will extend financing to both the public and private sectors in the form of grants, concessional resources, trade finance, private sector lending and political and risk insurance coverage.
Dr Mirza told the participants of the meeting that Pakistan was still in the containment phase. He emphasised the importance of health security as a key component of national security and called for enhancing investment in healthcare security infrastructure.