Fri. Aug 7th, 2020

103-year-old overcomes Coronavirus in Upper Chitral


BOONI: (PR) A 103-year old man has survived coronavirus or COVID-19 infection in the remote mountainous region of Upper Chitral in Northern Pakistan.

Aziz Abdul Alim was admitted to the newly established Aga Khan Health Services Emergency Response Centre in Booni, Upper Chitral, on 1st July, after testing positive for COVID-19. He was treated immediately and over the course of his almost two-week stay at the Emergency Response Centre, he stabilised without requiring supplemental oxygen. He was discharged in stable condition and showing no symptoms on 13th July, 2020.

“We treated Mr Aziz as a high-risk patient given his advanced age and provided the appropriate medical care along with psychosocial and moral support – equally important during these distressing times. In a short span of time we have successfully treated 59 COVID-19 patients at this facility – many of whom were elderly,” said Miraj Uddin, Regional Head for Chitral, Aga Khan Health Service, Pakistan.

Seeing a critical gap in adequate healthcare facilities to manage COVID-19 patients, the Aga Khan Health Service Pakistan (AKHS,P), established an Emergency Response Centre in Booni, Upper Chitral, earlier in May with support from Global Affairs Canada, the European Union, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and AKDN’s internal resources. The establishment of the Emergency Response Centre in Booni comes as the Aga Khan Development Network increases efforts to ensure that those in Pakistan’s remote and isolated mountainous communities can access quality healthcare in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We were very worried about my father’s poor health. We felt there was no hope of survival. My father was very excited at the time of his discharge. He greeted all the staff and management while leaving the response centre and thanked everyone for taking care of him” said Sohail, Aziz’s son.

The 28-bed COVID-19 care facility offers separate accommodation for both male and female patients and is designed to treat patients with moderate, severe and critical COVID-19 symptoms. The facility is run by a staff of 32 including eight doctors and 20 nurses equipped with essential material and supplies including medicine and personal protective equipment (PPE) for patients.

The inauguration of a second Emergency Response Centre in Garamchasma last month and a third Centre earlier this month in Mastuj has increased the overall capacity in Chitral to 72-beds. Additionally, in Gilgit-Baltistan, AKHS,P has 51 beds for COVID-19 patients with a new facility expected to open in Hunza in August.

The urgent nature of the pandemic demands rapidly deployable, easy to build, adaptable technologies. AKHS,P leveraged the expertise of the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat’s (AKAH) building and construction in the remote mountainous regions of Pakistan, to rapidly erect the Emergency Response Centres in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. With the support of partners such as Better Shelter, prefabricated materials and modular designs were used for rapid construction.

he training provided to these Emergency Response Centres by the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi, has been critical to ensuring that the provision of healthcare in these areas remains current and at the highest standard as the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolves and new information comes to light. The Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) and global health experts have provided training to AKHS,P clinical personnel on various aspects of COVID-19 related treatment, including managing critical patients, waste management, handling of PPE kits, screening strategies, and collecting, storing and transporting specimens.

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