PESHAWAR: Government officials from Pakistan and the United States Wednesday inaugurated 155 district disease monitoring units to enable local health officials to track the spread of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, more effectively throughout Pakistan.

The monitoring units, which are designated spaces within existing district health offices, have been equipped with modern audio-visual equipment and internet connectivity to strengthen real-time coordination on disease monitoring between the district and provincial levels.

The United States Mission to Pakistan, through the Agency for International Development (USAID), also supported the training of rapid response teams working in the monitoring units on how to conduct contact tracing for COVID-19 cases. These teams were also trained to use data to identify potential COVID-19 hotspots within the districts, says a press release.

“Being able to rapidly monitor, detect, and respond to public health threats such as COVID-19 is critically important.  It inspired our partnership with the Government of Pakistan to establish these district disease monitoring and response units and build the capacity of nearly 3,000 healthcare workers to rapidly respond to public health threats in Pakistan,” said USAID Mission Director Julie Koenen.

“We thank the Government of Pakistan for our continued collaboration as we meet the challenge of linking these units to provincial, regional, and federal structures, thereby providing critical resources to stop the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.”

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan expressed his gratitude to the United States Government and acknowledged that this support will go a long way towards institutionalizing an integrated disease surveillance system in Pakistan.

Last month, in partnership with the United States Government, the Managing Director of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) inaugurated the Patrind Power Transmission Project.

This mutual investment from the United States and Pakistan will add 147 megawatts hydroelectric capacity to Pakistan’s national energy grid.

The US Government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), supported the effort by constructing transmission lines and upgrading grid stations in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK)/Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region. This effort will ultimately strengthen private sector investments in clean-energy projects.