Booni, 19 May 2020: A newly established, 28-bed COVID-19 care facility, named “Emergency Response Centre for COVID-19 Patients” was today inaugurated in Booni, Upper Chitral. The Centre has been established by the Aga Khan Health Service, Pakistan (AKHS,P) – an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). Staff working at the Emergency Response Centre for COVID-19 Patients have been equipped with essential equipment and supplies, including medicines and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); 32 healthcare staff, including 8 doctors and 20 nurses will dedicate their time to the facility. Additionally, the Centre will be equipped with three ventilators for critically ill patients.
The new facility offers separate accommodations for female and male patients. COVID-19 patients with moderate, severe and critical symptoms will be treated at the Centre.
The Centre was inaugurated by Chief Guest Shah Saud, DC, Upper Chitral: “AKHS,P has an extensive track record of working in Chitral and has been a trusted partner of the government. The Emergency Response Centre for COVID-19 Patients, which will provide essential services to people in these trying times, is another testament to this fact.”
Also speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Wazir Zada – Member of the Provincial Assembly and Special Assistant to the Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Minority Affairs noted, “We are pleased to be here, at the inauguration of the Emergency Response Centre for COVID-19 Patients. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people from all communities and all walks of life, and it is imperative to respond to it collectively and in an inclusive manner.”
Mr. Miraj Din, Regional Head for Chitral, Aga Khan Health Service, Pakistan said: “We are honored to play our part in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by providing essential care to people who are affected from it. We hope that this modern facility coupled with our expert human resource can help alleviate some of this suffering.” He went on to say: “This pandemic is a crisis that we are facing collectively, and we welcome the opportunity to complement the Government’s efforts to respond to it.”
To supplement AKHS,P’s existing services in Chitral AKHS,P’s facilities have been further strengthened to facilitate COVID-19 patients at both the primary and the secondary levels. Special arrangements have also been made to accommodate COVID-19 patients in a make-shift quarantine centre in Booni. The Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) and global health experts have also provided training to AKHS,P clinical personnel on various aspects of COVID-19 related treatment, including, operating ventilators, managing critical patients, waste management, handling PPE kits, screening strategies, and collecting, as well as storing and transporting specimen. In collaboration with AKUH, AKHS,P has also extended support for testing patients for COVID-19 locally to the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The COVID-19 response has taken place without any interruption to the primary and secondary healthcare services that AKHS,P offers through its broad network of 30 basic health centres, three comprehensive health centres and one medical centre across Chitral.
Similarly, all clinical units continue to offer secondary care services, with the Aga Khan Medical Centre, Booni, offering several specialized services, including doctor consultations and telemedicine facilities.
AKHS, P, working with the Government and private institutions has also worked to raise awareness about COVID-19 through their staff, including health workers. Various activities at different forums and at the grassroots level have been conducted to ensure that communities, including those in remote and far-to-reach areas, are equipped with essential information to take appropriate preventive measures for COVID-19.