Training with Tech in Pakistan

Technology remains a lifeline for millions of businesses and individuals still coping with the effects of COVID-19. For many Fleming Fund grantees, the use of technology throughout the pandemic has helped maintain services, save costs and in some cases improve operations.

For Ayesha Rasheed head of DAI in Pakistan, the pandemic has provided an opportunity for new ways of working and created space to build stronger relationship with regional government authorities. “We have become creative in our delivery,” she said. “We’ve explored new options and provided products to our stakeholders, rather than just holding meetings online.”

Part of DAI’s solution has been to develop comprehensive online training modules hosted on a special learning platform. “We record lecture videos, develop class notes, PowerPoint presentations and have online graded assignments for our participants to complete. We have spoken specifically about developing clinical microbiology tutorials, like how to inoculate a petri dish although this will take more time to develop. We hope in the future these sorts of resources can be shared with other grantees,” said Ayesha.

Thus far, participants seem to enjoy the online medium and have been complimentary about the material. Dr. Munnaza Sarfaraz, who is a member of the National Institute of Health Secretariat, attended one of DAI’s Advanced AMR virtual workshops. She said: “The training helped me grasp core AMR concepts. Sessions on lab quality control and assurance were extremely useful. The contents used in the training fulfilled the objectives of the workshop and I would like to congratulate the partners for conducting a successful event.” Osama Aziz from the National Veterinary Laboratory, who also attended the training said he felt “no difference” interacting with the facilitators online versus in person.

Ayesha says aside from the virtual learning, the pandemic has also allowed deeper 1-2-1 engagement with regional authorities. Pakistan is federated state, meaning its provinces are partially self-governed but united by a central government. Provinces are authorised to deliver health services independently, which can add a level of complexity to national disease surveillance for COVID-19 and antimicrobial resistance.

Since the start of the pandemic, Ayesha and her team have held smaller meetings with regional government officials to facilitate cooperation. Through these efforts authorities have become much more aware of the importance of surveillance and have been encouraged to further engage the private sector in disease surveillance.

Authorities have also relied on laboratories more than normal - to test for COVID-19 and report on vital public health information. “Provincial/district authorities are really looking at surveillance and reporting networks, which will help us with AMR surveillance,” said Ayesha.

For more updates about AMR in Pakistan, browse through the National Institute of Health's monthly AMR newsletter.

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