USAID works with the Government of Pakistan and development partners to address the primary and secondary challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
USAID and the Government of Pakistan work together to address the wide range of challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. This partnership includes strengthening the country’s health services, improving access to virtual education, training small and medium enterprises to operate online, and supporting communities affected by the social and economic effects of the pandemic.
In March 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic first reached Pakistan, USAID and the Government of Pakistan immediately began developing response activities to counter the outbreak. For example, USAID supported “HealthAlert,” a phone app, to report new cases of COVID-19 in rural areas to help monitor cases. More activities include:
- Provided 200 ventilators and trained more than 600 health workers in 64 Pakistani hospitals.
- Established 6 Command and Control Centers, and 6 Provincial and 155 District Disease Surveillance and Response Units and teams across the country for enhanced data visibility and surveillance to detect, monitor and prevent infectious disease outbreaks, including COVID-19.
- Provision of COVID-19 training to health care personnel to prevent spread of infectious diseases while at the same time building capacity of federal, provincial and district governments in responding to COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
- Trained over 1600 health providers on COVID-19 case management in hospital isolation wards and intensive care units, and on the correct medical use of ventilators.
- Provision of training on infection prevention and control, to 3784 public health professionals.
- Trained over 30,000 Lady Health Workers on home-based care for mild COVID-19 cases. The system is further reinforced at the community level for prevention of infectious diseases.
- Purchased and distributed one million COVID-19 rapid diagnostic test kits and more than 1.2 million items of life-saving health commodities that the US government donated to Pakistan to help Pakistan detect COVID-19 infections and protect healthcare professionals and other frontline workers from COVID-19 across the country.
- Assisted the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) in digitizing 15 years of data, consisting of more than 4 million records previously maintained in paper-based filing systems, and provided training to DRAP staff on records management best practices.
- Supported nine private sector manufacturers in Pakistan to build the required systems to reliably produce the needed volume of quality-assured personal protective equipment (PPE) for COVID-19 response.
STRENGTHENING RESILIENCY IN VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES
Responding to COVID-19 in communities that lack cohesion and tolerance creates challenges, but also creates opportunities to draw people together against the disease. USAID, together with local government groups, designed and implemented activities to engage youth, religious leadership, and diverse community leaders by promoting messages of peace and tolerance through radio, social media, and television. USAID also provided technical assistance to develop COVID-19 and social distancing-related procedures for the upcoming local elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces
PUBLIC HEALTH MESSAGING
USAID partnered with the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (GoKP) to support public health messaging through the creation of more than 70 social media materials, posters, videos, radio, and other media products on COVID-19 to reduce the spread of the disease and provide accurate information to the community. The videos, in Pashto and Urdu languages, were aired on national and regional television channels and social media platforms.
ECONOMIC SUPPORT TO SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES
Throughout Pakistan, micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) struggled to continue operating virtually during the pandemic. To address this challenge, USAID launched an extensive online training program to help MSMEs use digital and social media marketing and advertising. USAID also partnered with global private sector players such as Foodpanda, which helped more than 90 women-owned, home-based food businesses use their platform to remain operational during the pandemic. These efforts were critical to keep Pakistani businesses running and reduce unemployment.
With in-person meetings canceled due to COVID-19, USAID developed a network to help students, educators and government officials stay in contact and share information about COVID-19 prevention. The group used diverse messaging and group communication platforms, as well as direct phone calls to reach those without smartphone access or reliable internet connections. The activity reached more than 3,000 community leaders and spread across 10 districts in Sindh province.