Virtual University of Pakistan Conducted Webinar on “Public Health Policies and Community Response towards COVID-19”

The Department of Sociology, Virtual University of Pakistan arranged a webinar on “Public Health Policies and Community Response towards COVID-19” through Zoom on August 21, 2020. The purpose of the webinar was to explore the areas of social care and responsibilities of the community during COVID-19 and to analyze the public health policies and practices by discussing social and economic challenges and opportunities. Renowned Sociologists were invited from Islamabad, Lahore and UK as speakers. A large number of students, faculty members, executives and practitioners attended the webinar.

Chief Guest of this webinar was Mr. Naeem Tariq, Rector, Virtual University of Pakistan. The program was started with the opening comments of Prof. Dr. Najma Najam (Advisor Academics, Virtual University of Pakistan). In her opening remarks, she highlighted social consideration regarding the community life, community response on disease along with associated SOPs, social care and public health policies for the wellbeing of the society. Mr. Naeem Tariq, Rector, Virtual University of Pakistan in his opening remarks expressed that the socio-cultural challenges that are being faced to adopt the preventive measures against COVID-19 cannot be ignored and it is very important to highlight those with particular focus on the most vulnerable groups to combat socioeconomic challenges and opportunities. He mentioned that in this context clear public messaging at local level will be vital to provide information. In addition, the Rector also discussed the potential opportunity for universities that COVID-19 has redirected and exemplified the positive and supportive role of Virtual University of Pakistan during this pandemic.

First speaker of the webinar Prof. Dr. Rubeena Zakar (Director Institute of Social and Cultural Studies, University of the Punjab) briefed about Socio-cultural challenges for the implementation of Public Health Preventive Measures in Pakistan. She discussed different socio-cultural factors that hinder the preventive measures in general and COVID-19 specifically in the light of her extensive research work and also proposed policy guidelines in this regard. Dr. Muhammad Zaman (Chairman, Department of Sociology, QAU Islamabad) was the second speaker of the session who talked on the “Post COVID-19 Socioeconomic Challenges and Opportunities: Sociological Interpretation”. He discussed the global effects of pandemic and suggested that media should use correct terminologies for prevention and sensitization of community. Third and the last speaker of the webinar was Dr. Parveen Ali (Senior Lecturer, University of Sheffield, UK) talked about “Social Care and Community Responsibilities Post Pandemic” highlighting community challenges and suggested to adopt new opportunities by playing one’s role in the community. Each talk followed the question answer session.

Concluding the seminar, Prof. Dr. Najma Najam thanked all the speakers, faculty members and participants for their active participation. The webinar ended with the recommendation that policy makers should involve academicians in the process of policy making to get positive and long-lasting outcomes of the implementations.