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Corona vaccine to be introduced after successful trials: minister

LAHORE:Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid has said the Punjab government shall introduce vaccine after successful trials.

“The trials are being conducted as per international protocols. Only after successful trials, the true assessment can be made about the efficacy of the vaccine. The side-effects of the Corona vaccine are being reviewed,” she said while addressing a press conference at the Chief Minister Secretariat here on Monday.

The health minister said that all vaccine manufacturers were in contact with the federal government. However, an apex Vaccine Management Committee, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, has been constituted whose members include Chief Secretary Punjab, IG Punjab, representative of Punjab Healthcare Commission and the Health Minister herself. Committees have been constituted at district level, she said.

While condemning the rumours being spread about the corona pandemic and vaccines, the minister said that the government had not yet got any vaccine, while the process of registration has been initiated. The storage of the vaccine is very important and facility has been arranged at all districts of Punjab. The storage has been arranged at 2385 ice-lined refrigerators across Punjab. Cold rooms have been ensured in all districts and the Vaccine Management Committees shall be headed by deputy commissioners, she said.

The storage facility shall be available at all Teaching Hospitals, DHQs and THSQs. As many as 637 people have been trained and 76 Master Trainers shall train other vaccinators. So far about 300,000 health workers have already been registered for vaccination and over all 500,000 people shall be vaccinated initially. Initially, only health workers shall be vaccinated and in the second phase, people above 60 years of age shallbe vaccinated, she said. “Both WHO and China have promised to provide us vaccines for 2 million people free of cost and in time. The government is in negotiations with the Sino Pharma for timely provision of vaccine for which we have allocated Rs 250 million. The entire world is praising Pakistan for effectively controlling the Corona Pandemic. We have started the indigenous production of Anti Rabies vaccine and previously we had no option but to buy it from India as the last government did nothing on this front,” the minister said.

The health minister said that the government was making all out efforts to secure academic year for students by implementing the SOPs.

The minister said, “If the first and second waves were to be compared, the first wave was more intense. The overall ratio in Punjab is 4.4 with Lahore remaining the top city. This ratio is still much less compared to other provinces. We have set up 20 Bio Safety Level- 3 Labs in Punjab and we have taken the total number of labs to 20 from two. Two new BSL-3 labs have been set up in Rahim Yar Khan and Multan and the PC-1s of 5 new BSL-3 Labs is ready as we plan to take the number of Labs to 25 within the current fiscal year. These five new labs are being set up in Okara, Kharian, Layyah, Wah and Mianwali. We have an overall capacity to perform 24,000 corona tests in 24 hours.”

The minister said, “There is another positive development that Prime Minister Imran Khan has pledged to give away Sehat Sahulat cards to all the 22.5 million families of Punjab. The entire Punjab is being provided Universal Health coverage. So far 5.2 million families have been given Sehat Sahulat Cards and within the current fiscal year, cards shall be distributed among all families of Sahiwal and Dera Ghazi Khan Divisions. So far 42 per cent families in three divisions have been given cards. Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar want to provide maximum possible healthcare facilities to the people of Punjab. This project had cost Rs 60 billion. Interest free loans are being provided to healthcare professionals through Punjab Health Foundation and so far 280,000 people have benefitted from the scheme.

Dr Yasmin Rashid added, “Opposition politicians Maryam Aurangzeb and Khawaja Saad Rafique said that the government has not placed a single brick. I want to take them over to our projects and show them the bricks we have placed in the new projects. Work is at full pace at Ganga Ram Mother and Child Hospital, Nishter-2 Multan, DG Khan Teaching Hospital and Mianwali Mother and Child Hospital. The Institute of Urology Rawalpindi shall be given Rs. 600 million for its final completion. The Wazirabad Institute of Cardiology has been made functional with a spending of Rs 500 million. We did not build mega bridges and palaces but hospitals. Taxpayers’ money is being spent only on people. The PC-1 of a new dental college in Rawalpindi is ready and within the coming fiscal year, work shall start on it. The previous government did not think of improving our performance on Mother and Child health indicators. We are developing a Child Health University. Seven new Mother and Child hospitals are being developed in Punjab at Mianwali, Sialkot, Gujrat, Ganga Ram Lahore, Layyah, Bahawalnagar and Rajanpur. Prime Minister Imran Khan had mentioned stunted growth as key area soon after taking over and we are making historical progress towards that. A Paeds University is being developed at Children Hospital.”

Responding to queries of journalists, the health minister said adequate number of ventilators was available for patients in Punjab and there has been no instance of patients being denied ventilators, while the government received 150 free ventilators from the NDMA.

The government has spent Rs. 14 billion on free treatment and diagnostic services for Corona patients with an additional grant of Rs. 2 billion.

To another question on questions raised about Sindh, she said all provincial representatives were part of the NCOC discussions and all provinces are part of consensus decisions. On one hand, the lockdowns were imposed and on the other the PDM was doing its political rallies. Bilawal Bhutto himself got infected from Covid-19 and yet he tried to spread the infection to everyone.

MTI Act has been enforced in Sialkot and it shall soon be enforced in King Edward Medical College in the next week. Initially, it was to be piloted in one university and one college. It shall be reviewed after one year and ways to improve shall be assessed based on one year experience. This is a management arrangement and not privatisation. So far 32,000 healthcare professionals have been hired on merit and the government hopes that the human resource requirement has been fulfilled, she said.

She said she never did any politics on sickness of any political rivals, why should she use Covid-19 for politics. The PDM rallies were damaging people’s health and 11 parties together could not amass a gathering of over 18,000, the minister said.

She said when Nawaz Sharif was under treatment at government hospital, his party had created lots of noise. The three-time prime Minister promised to return to country after his treatment and now he is not fulfilling his promise. She said she had requested Nawaz Sharif personal physician to share his reports many times which he never fulfilled. Nawaz Sharif was often seen going out, which means his health was alright and he must return to the country, the health minister said.

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