The coronavirus pandemic and the COVID-19 disease it causes escalated rapidly across the entire globe, influencing a greater number of population. Almost every nation has been exposed to the outbreak.
The most menacing fact about this disease is that it does not have any vaccine or cure. It has also limited human mobility due to the social distancing measures to prevent further spread. Still, a large number of people have been affected by the disease. More 3.4 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 so far, and nearly 245,000 people have died.
European countries and the U.S. have all been badly affected by the virus, while the latter has the highest death toll so far. The mortality rate, especially in Italy and Spain, hit terrifying heights before slowing down recently.
Every continent of the world has been affected, and everyone is trying their best to overcome the pandemic and its effects as soon as possible.
On April 7, 2020, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke on the phone to discuss how to combat the coronavirus pandemic. In this hour of need, both country's seriousness toward dealing with the crisis can help them work together more effectively.
A mechanism and strategy will be required to develop collaboration and cooperation in the health care sector. Initially, there is the immediate need to form a response team to deal with the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pakistan, due to its weak economic system, faces numerous challenges. Despite the weak economic structure and a technologically disadvantaged medical sector, it will still be able to work efficiently in this crucial and critical response.
Under the leadership of Imran Khan, Pakistan has mobilized its resources to deal with COVID-19. In Turkey, medical staff has been diligently working to combat the disease. There is no proper cure or vaccine for the coronavirus. Therefore, the Turkish Red Crescent, health centers and hospitals have adopted a century-old technique, known as convalescent serum.
This method uses plasma from recovered patients to cure current patients. This method was also used to cure the Ebola and SARS outbreaks. It helps patients with weak immune systems cope with the viral disease.
China was the first to use this technique for COVID-19 treatment, while the U.S. and Israel have also received some good results from the treatment. As a result, the Turkish Health Ministry and the Turkish Red Crescent also adopted the technique. Pakistan is also expected to use plasma therapy to cure coronavirus patients. This will help Pakistan's government make all possible arrangements to bring the death rate under control.
However, a limitation of this technique is that a recovered patient can only donate plasma after 14 days of recovery, once a second test result comes negative. Despite the two-week waiting period, it is better to adopt the therapy than doing nothing.
Potentials and facts
Pakistan and Turkey both are serious about battling the major outbreak and investing in medical science to find a cure. Meanwhile, both nations can fast-track a taskforce to constantly share information related to any development in combating the pandemic. This will help government officials from both nations in regulating effective policies in combating COVID-19.
In this situation, Turkey has come forward as a very crucial player fighting COVID-19. Turkey has sent medical supplies to more than 50 different countries, including China, the U.K. and the U.S.
The U.K. thanked Turkey by tweeting, “Thank you Turkey, valued friend and ally for such a vital contribution in the fight against coronavirus.” Such practices at a time like this will encourage trustworthy and friendly relations.
Erdoğan, during his last visit to Pakistan, mentioned assisting the country's health care and health science sectors with the latest technology. Now, the time has come for some real action and implementation of that vision.
Turkey’s policies toward COVID-19 are essential in battling the pandemic. It has taken some important steps, such as stopping all international flights, bringing back stranded Turkish citizens, closing down schools and advising social distancing. Turkey is also helping other states with its generous social assisting schemes.
Turkey and Pakistan should allocate budgets in forming a research center composed of well-known scientists from both nations. The team can research the implications of COVID-19 and mobilize resources to find a vaccine.
Businessmen and major shareholders of both economies can also play a significant role in combating the coronavirus. They can form a collaborative medical exchange program. The Alibaba Foundation and Jack Ma have also established the Global MediXchange to combat COVID-19.
Pakistan and Turkey both can follow the same pattern in forming a medical exchange program. The program will aim to form an online communication system that will be responsible for international collaboration. It can also provide medical teams with an important communication channel. Tasks will be predefined and will consist of different departments performing assigned tasks.
To counter the economic implications of the coronavirus, a well-defined strategy will be required. In this case, government officials of both states should be proactive in identifying the upcoming hurdles. Both states can form a joint forum for economic collaborations and future trade relations. The parliaments of both countries can play a role in formulating a counter policy act, which may include a policy suggesting ideas for legislation to deal with COVID-19.
Imran Khan’s call
Prime Minister Imran Khan in a video message to the international community highlighted some major implications of the pandemic. In his statement, he appealed to world bodies and the international community to "launch an initiative to give debt relief to developing countries.”
One of the major problems faced by the developing states due to lockdown is the emerging hunger crisis. These states are in debt with no proper backup or reservoirs helping the economy. It is hard for weak economies to fight back, as they are completely focusing on dealing with COVID-19 prevention, along with providing relief for the citizens.
He added that if not dealt with properly this could become be much bigger than the Great Depression. He said indebted states are facing the challenge of a lack of fiscal space. The “Global Initiative on Debt Relief” sounds like a welcome initiative in countering the economic challenges. It will introduce representation from every corner with a coordination mechanism to follow. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) relief on relaxing the debt for Pakistan was a crucial step in that direction. This initiative was highly appreciated by Pakistan.
The IMF should release more packages for weak economies like Pakistan. This will help states perform their tasks effectively without the fear of a financial debacle.
As Turkey and Pakistan are trustworthy allies and brotherly Muslim states, Turkey can also assist Pakistan by releasing a fund to stabilize the economy.
Turkey and Pakistan, by joining hands with China, can play a significant role in combating the coronavirus. China’s policy in dealing with the pandemic is crucial for the entire world. China has effectively controlled the spread of disease by following the complete lockdown. It reduced the mortality rate and its cure rate has shown a significant increase.
Therefore, Pakistan and Turkey can seek China’s help in combating the coronavirus. Pakistan, China and Turkey along with some other states can adopt China’s mechanism of dealing with this viral disease by initiating a collaborative program. Initially, a tri-national initiative can be taken for a research center. Others can be invited to join later. It should also focus on sharing all the related discoveries while experimenting to get the maximum result of finding a cure or developing a vaccine.
By following these steps, Pakistan and Turkey can collaboratively work to combat COVID-19. Both states can also seek assistance from other states.
* International relations analyst based in Islamabad, Pakistan
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