Lubna Aftab

MARDAN: COVID-19 spread in Pakistan in starting months of 2020 AND infected over 77,000 people till now. The government announced lockdown on 13th March and closed all the schools and markets and shops and stopped every other activity in the country. Everyone knew Pakistan is not financially strong enough to provide its people with basic needs during the lockdown.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Youth Assembly (KPYA), one of the leading youth organisations of Pakistan, under the chairmanship of Daniyal Ahmad Paracha, led from the front side by side with the government to help the affected people, particularly the working class.

First of all, the KPYA started creating awareness in the public through social media campaigns, online live talk shows and different other tools to guide the people regarding social distancing and follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The KPYA volunteers formed a team of doctors for tele-medicine to stop patients from coming to hospitals for minor issues and give them medical consultation through 24/7 phone calls. The KPYA volunteers paid visits to different hospitals to check the COVID-19 isolation wards and see what doctors require at this time. The Youth Assembly noticed that doctors were not having proper kits which was more dangerous for them as they are frontline soldiers in the current situation. Therefore, it asked the government officials to provide proper kits and equipment to the doctors and other health staff on urgent basis.

As the lockdown went longer, the KPYA started distribution of face masks, sanitizers free of cost to the people. And instruct their members to collect donations on local level and try as best as they can in providing basic needs to the deserving people of KP.

As the world grapples with unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic, youth can demonstrate their continued leadership in their communities and countries. Youth are also affected by the pandemic’s socio-economic impacts. Nevertheless, youth are among the most active in global response. Decision-makers must commit to ensure youth voices part of the solution for healthier, safer and gender equal world.

Daniyal Ahmad Paracha mentioned some of the ways in which the youth members are stepping up and taking action against the outbreak.

  • Providing essential reproductive health services and companionship
  • Using social media and apps to spread accurate information
  • Speaking out for effective and equitable care
  • Championing mental wellness which is really very important to cope and deal with the stressors.
  • Innovating to improve access to lifesaving testing
  • Conducting research and developing technology
  • Harnessing the strength of communications
  • Delivering food and sanitation products.
  • Engaging elected members, officials and lawmakers
  • Ensuring the most vulnerable are not left behind

In the face of COVID-19, social media is a great way for individual and communities to stay connected even while physically separated. Tauseef Ali, member of KPYA, while sharing his views said, “We can break the chain of the coronavirus spread and ensure safety of all by avoiding large gatherings and remain connected through social media.”

Ghalib Kamal, a Youth Assembly representative, said, “I have dedicated my services for helping the needy through fund-raising”. He advised the youth to take part in fighting against epidemic through different means like arranging sessions to inform unprivileged people how to keep themselves safe from virus.

The KPYA and Takht Bhai Youth Assembly in coordination with Maaz Welfare Organization and Takht Bhai media cell distributed 500 ration bags among deserving people in a well-organized manner keeping social-distancing a priority. Chief Minister of Youth Assembly Malik Osama Ahmed was chief guest at the ceremony.

All the members of the KPYA working in their respective districts are utilizing their capabilities and resources to facilitate their deprived companions in the particular area to effectively overcome the status quo and to keep people united and facilitated within KP. It is the real display of love for the humanity and a charitable nation. Youth MPA Mian Salman Naseer distributed food boxes, food packages, clothes among the poor and needy people of Peshawar and Charsadda.

Abdul Sattar, MPA from Mingora, and Swabi KP youth parliamentarian Immadudin Yousafzai with collaboration of Al-Khidmat Foundation distributed more than 1,300 food packages among the deserving people including flour, rice, ghee, sugar, tea, soap. The daily wagers who lost their jobs because of lockdown were given priority.

The Youth Assembly has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Zhwandoon Welfare Organization at time of lockdown in province due to coronavirus, to work together against thalassemia, blood donations, financial donations to help out patients in lockdown as much as possible, particularly in KP.

Secretary General Executive Council KPYA Dr Gul Afshan said, “We will make policy in coming year to urge the government to take action for screening before cousin marriage which is the main cause of spread of the disease and we are with thalassemia patients in this pandemic”.

Till now, KPYA is providing the needed items to the people on daily basis in almost all the districts of KP.