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  • Even in the magnificient valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan, COVID-19 is present. The Aga Khan Development Network and the European Union are implementing a programme that aims to reach nearly 1.5 million people about prevention and mitigation while strengthening both the community's response and the healthcare system.
    AKDN / Christopher Wilton-Steer
Training sessions for staff, government partners and AKDN agencies
AKDN partners with European Union to support COVID-19 response in Pakistan

With the second wave of the Coronavirus, six AKDN agencies have come together to support Pakistan’s health system to manage the spread of the disease, with a focus on training and awareness-raising.


Training sessions are conducted to help bolster community response to COVID-19.

The work forms part of a 17-month emergency programme aimed at responding to the outbreak in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. The programme aims to reach nearly 1.5 million people with critical information about prevention and mitigation, while strengthening the healthcare system and community response. It is supported by the EU’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Operations Unit (ECHO)

The Aga Khan Heath Services, the Aga Khan University Hospital and the Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery (AKHS, AKUH and AKU-SONAM respectively) have organised a series of training sessions for staff, government partners and other AKDN agencies, on infection prevention and control, clinical management, community awareness, sample collection and laboratory testing. Additionally, AKHS has set up five COVID-19 response centres and two free-of-charge testing centres to bolster the government’s disease control efforts.

All the agencies involved are conducting awareness–raising campaigns, to help educate broad audiences on ways to live with COVID-19, managing the many every day and psychological challenges. 


To ensure that visitors and staff wash their hands frequently, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat installed foot-operated hand washing stations in government hospitals and quarantine centres across Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral.

The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) is working to distribute hygiene kits and protective equipment to remote communities, and on improving current sanitation infrastructure. It has also supported children to return to school by installing handwashing stations like outside of school buildings and other critical locations.

As the Network’s local representative, the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) is well positioned to disseminate messages to communities, and particularly ones that help guide behaviour changes around hygiene practices. Up-to-date clinical information and prevention strategies received from AKDN’s health agencies – in line with the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization guidance – are being disseminated to local populations. AKRSP has also conducted training sessions with Local Support Organisations (LSOs) across communities in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral so that the LSO members can pass on this learning to their networks.

To date, 355 patients have benefitted from the free testing centres; 84 training workshops have been conducted; and in 20 government health facilities and over 60 Aga Khan health centres, healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients have received personal protective equipment in order to work effectively and safely.

Given that much of the work focuses on behaviour change, the impact is anticipated to endure well beyond the life of the programme. This ongoing work has been key to supporting the Government of Pakistan’s efforts to tackle the outbreak.


In Pakistan’s mountainous north, with support from the EU, the AKDN has set up five COVID-19 response centres and two free-of-charge testing centres.

This text was adapted from an article posted on the AKF UK website.