Saudi-funded office block inaugurated in quake-hit Rawalakot city

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The complex includes the offices of district government with 25 blocks and was inaugurated on Monday April 22, 2019 - (Photo Courtesy - Saudi Embassy))
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The complex includes the offices of district government with 25 blocks and was inaugurated on Monday April 22, 2019 - (Photo Courtesy - Pakistan’s Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority)
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A high-level delegation from Saudi Fund for Development were present at the inauguration ceremony of District Complex Rawalakot on April 23, 2019 (Photo Courtesy - Pakistan’s Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority)
Updated 23 April 2019

Saudi-funded office block inaugurated in quake-hit Rawalakot city

  • Complex opened in Rawalakot on Monday, has 25 blocks for district government offices
  • Saudi Arabia major partner in reconstruction efforts since devastating October 2005 quake in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) and the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) completed a complex to house government offices in Rawalakot city in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, a spokesperson for ERRA said on Tuesday.
Rawalakot was among the areas hit by a devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake on Oct. 8, 2005, which wrought widespread death and destruction in Kashmir and parts of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.
The death toll from the 2005 quake was more than 75,000 while tens and thousands of buildings, including schools, hospitals, and other state infrastructure, were damaged.
The Saudi-funded complex, inaugurated on Monday, has 25 blocks and will house district government offices, the ERRA official said.
“Government and people of Pakistan highly value the timely contribution of our brotherly country to alleviate miseries of earthquake affected Pakistani people,” the Acting Deputy Chairman of ERRA, Brig Muhammad Latif, said in a statement.
A high-level delegation from SFD, ERRA, officials from the Economic Affair Division, and the Azad Kashmir government were present at the inauguration ceremony of the complex.
“It was the professional commitment and dedication of Adviser Engineer Abdullah M. Al-Shoaibi, Yasir Al Bakri Project Manager Engineer SFD, and Faisal Al Yahya, engineer operation department SFD, that led to the successful completion of the projects,” Latif said.
Saudi Arabia has been an active partner of ERRA in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of earthquake affected areas after October 2005.
“SFD provided a grant of US $160 Million for the construction of educational and health facilities in Kashmir and KP, while at present out of 6 mega projects, 5 mega projects have been successfully completed in governance and education sectors in Kashmir,” ERRA said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia is also funding the King Abdullah University in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which is currently under construction and slated to be completed by June 2019, according to Latif.
ERRA’s acting deputy chairman thanked the guests, including the Deputy Head of Mission Habeeb Ullah Al Bokhari, for their support.
According to a UN Financial Tracking Service report released in October last year, Saudi Arabia is ranked fourth among the world’s major donors of humanitarian aid.
In Pakistan itself, the Kingdom has provided assistance amounting to $107.3 million, used in the implementation of 85 projects for displaced people affected by floods and earthquakes between 2005 and 2018, the report said.
In April 2018, Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Saeed Al-Maliki inaugurated the King Abdullah Teaching Hospital in Mansehra, another earthquake-hit district of KP province.


Pakistan says hospitals have 'ample resources' against coronavirus while doctors sound alarm

Updated 30 May 2020

Pakistan says hospitals have 'ample resources' against coronavirus while doctors sound alarm

  • ‘Only 25 percent of Pakistan’s hospital assets currently engaged:’ PM’s health adviser
  • In last 24 hours, 78 people died of coronavirus in biggest single day tally in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health, Dr. Zafar Mirza, said in a media briefing on Saturday that Pakistan’s health care sector had ‘ample resources’ to deal with coronavirus while doctors sounded alarm in the country’s most populous province, Punjab.
Pakistan saw a record jump in daily fatalities and cases on Friday with 78 people reported to have died from the virus in 24 hours including four health care workers. The total number of infected cases in the country stands at over 68,000 people with a death count of 1,400 as of Saturday.
“The overall situation in the country is under control as 25 percent of the country’s assets in the health sector are being used currently. It may be that a few hospitals in big cities which have huge influx are facing problems, otherwise we have ample resources to deal with COVID-19 patients so far,” Mirza said.
The PM’s aide also stressed the need for following standard operating procedures and adopting social distancing to contain the spread of the virus.
“In view of growing number of coronavirus cases and deaths due to this disease, the government is left with no option except to declare wearing of masks a must for everyone at public places, especially mosques, markets, shopping malls, public transport, and other crowded places,” he added.
Additionally, a resource management system was being launched to inform the public about the availability of beds and ventilators in different hospitals, he continued.
But some doctors have refuted the government’s claims regarding the state of the health care sector.
Vice Chairman of the Young Doctors Association (YDA) in Punjab, Dr. Shoaib Tarrar, said hospitals in big cities were almost full due to a huge influx of patients during the last week.
“The system is going to collapse in the coming days due to a rise in the number of patients. At Holy Family Hospital Rawalpindi, we have only two beds available with oxygen facility. Our young doctors have informed us about similar situations in the whole of Punjab,” Dr. Tarrar told Arab News. 
Pakistan began relaxing its lockdown measures earlier this month, with shops, businesses and mosques opening up and hundreds of thousands thronging to the marketplaces in anticipation of Eid Al-Fitr last weekend. 
Dr. Javed Akram, Vice Chancellor of University of Health Sciences Lahore, said the government should focus more on capacity building at health facilities to deal with the surge in the number of COVID-19 patients.
“It all depends upon the peak of COVID-19 in Pakistan as it is very difficult to estimate when we will see its peak,” Dr. Akram told Arab News. 
“The government is taking a lot of measures but this is such a huge challenge that the whole world’s health systems have collapsed while dealing with it,” he said, and added that currently, the health system was coping with demand.
But he warned that if the public’s response to coronavirus containment efforts remained lax, there would be a greater surge. 
“Then we will see more influx which will compromise our health system,” he said.