Thursday Mar 31, 2022
KARACHI: The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) will stop functioning today (Thursday) after operating for two years as the National Institute of Health, Islamabad (NIH) will take over all the functions, roles and responsibilities of the national COVID-19 body.
An official of the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHS,R&C) said that the NIH will continue the work of NCOC, making it clear that the forum was not being closed as only its functions were being transitioned to a different body.
Officials said Prime Minister Imran Khan was supposed to officially hand over NCOC to Centre for Communicable Diseases (CDC) at the NIH but he would not be able to attend the formal closure of the centre due to the prevailing political situation in the country.
“Tomorrow Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar will formally hand over the NCOC to the Executive Director NIH, Islamabad at the NCOC last routine meeting,” NHS,R&C official added.
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, who also served as the NCOC chief, said that the responsibilities of the forum are being handed over to the health ministry as COVID-19 indicators at all times low and high vaccination level.
"Today is last day of NCOC operation. With covid indicators at all time lows & high level of vaccination, baton now being passed on to health ministry. Chairing NCOC during last 2 years & working with the most dedicated team has been the greatest privilege and honour of my life," Umar tweeted on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated the NCOC team for a successful journey of dealing with the pandemic and garnering international acclaim.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr Faisal Sultan had earlier told The News that ultimately NCOC had to be wrapped up and now its role and responsibilities are being handed over to the newly created CDC at NIH Islamabad.
According to Dr Faisal Sultan, government had reformed the National Institute of Health (NIH) Islamabad so that it could effectively deal with any health emergency in the future and a Centre for Communicable Diseases (CDC) has been created within the NIH to play the role of NCOC.
Established inside the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) Secretariat in Islamabad, NCOC was set up in March 2020 in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic to collect, analyse and process information.
The NCOC is the entity in charge of Pakistan's COVID-19 efforts, policies and implementation and makes suggestions to the Prime Minister's National Coordination Committee for timely actions related to the national COVID-19 response, NHS official said, adding that it includes specialists from both the civil and military institutions.
It is worth mentioning here that Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates had also praised the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) and the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), in fighting diseases.
In his blog, Gates wrote, "Last week I also went to Pakistan, where I visited two of the country’s innovative command centres for fighting diseases, the NEOC for polio eradication and the NCOC for COVID."
"The NEOC uses state-of-the-art information tools developed by Global Polio Eradication Initiative to track polio so that no child is ever paralysed by it again," he added. The NCOC, Gates said had applied resources and lessons learnt from the polio programme — including data analysis, vaccine campaign planning, and community engagement— to coordinate Pakistan’s response to COVID. "Both centres blew me away," the philanthropist said.