Muscat: Dr. Akjemal Magtymova, Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) to the Sultanate hailed the Royal directives of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik in mobilising the national response through forming a Supreme Committee for COVID-19 and the strict measures taken to halt the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, as well as to support global response under International Health Regulations.
In an interview with Oman News Agency (ONA), WHO Representative in the Sultanate said that Oman put in place increasingly stringent containment measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, to prevent onward transmission and to protect frontline health workrforce.
“COVID-19 pandemic tests the core of our values: the value of human health, wellbeing and lives – which is taken very seriously by the Government of the Sultanate of Oman, putting together extraordinary response from all those involved coupled with full confidence and incredible solidarity and discipline from the individuals and communities throughout the country,” she added.
“As was the case in times of peace, also in times of crisis, Oman demonstrates in practice its continued commitment to the Universal Health Coverage (UHC), by mounting up its hospital and ICU beds, supplies and mobilizing human resources to serve its population. This includes both Omani citizens, as well as nearly 48% of non-Omani residents, to whom the Government is extending its diagnostic and treatment coverage for COVID-19, free of charge,” she furthered.
As for the scope of cooperation between the Sultanate and the WHO, she said “WHO-Oman routine program work has been halted and all the current efforts being re-oriented to respond to the ongoing health emergency. While at the onset of the emergency, WHO support included speedy shipments for minimum initial requirements of testing supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE), the core of WHO-Oman collaboration in the fight against the COVID-19 lies on the principles of internationalism, actions based on science and research.
This cooperation includes exchange, wide dissemination and use of WHO’s generated evidence, technical guidelines and procedures that give directions to various preparedness, management and response activities, coherent use of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials and cooperation on responsible media messages, and national workshops and trainings for the surveillance, management and emergency operations across the Sultanate, in addition to engagement in global research, solidarity trial and other partnerships to build evidence for planning/projections, diagnostic, management of COVID-19 infected patients, surveillance and response strategies, as well as mobilising UN and other partners’ contributions under one Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19 and coordinating partners’ response aligned with the national response, WHO builds upon its strategic mandate to promote health, keep the world safe and protect vulnerable.”
She pointed out that as part of regional solidarity and to further enhance cross-country experience sharing on national and regional responses to COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Ahmed al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region held the first virtual meeting with health ministers of the countries of the Eastern-Mediterranean on April 2nd, 2020.
WHO Regional Director intends to maintain these virtual meetings as a regular platform to highlight key developments in the region and globally to support WHO member states in decision making for successful national and regional responses to the pandemic, WHO Representative in the Sultanate added.
WHO is a multinational body of the United Nations, specialized in public health. It was established post World War-2 in 1948 and has a membership of 194 countries. It was founded to ensure multinational collaboration to address issues of international health that goes beyond borders. In 2005, the countries agreed on the International Health Regulations to cooperate on matters of disease outbreaks of international concern. There are obligations of WHO member states to provide and share information as per this instrument.