Supporting the COVID-19 relief effort in Pakistan

Over the last year, our students and staff have played a vital role in the COVID-19 response, through research, volunteering and community support.
Woman volunteering in COVID-19 field hospital

Meet Aleena, one of our Public Health distance learning students based in Pakistan. When the pandemic struck in March, Aleena helped set up a 1,500-bed COVID-19 facility, training other volunteers and heading the patient flow and mental health departments. 

“When the pandemic hit Pakistan at the end of February 2020, there was an urgency to act accordingly and manage the worsening situation. The government of Sindh decided to set-up a Field Isolation Centre in Karachi, to help slow the spread of the virus by isolating affected cases. I came across a Facebook post for this same setup, looking for volunteer Doctors, and as a recent medical graduate myself, I applied immediately.

“Upon informing my parents, I received some concerns and they were very hesitant to allow me to work at what would potentially be the COVID-19 “Red Zone”. However, I responded by saying 'I won’t do it if you don’t go to work,' and being Doctors themselves, they could not argue further.

“I started volunteering from March, when I got actively involved in setting up the facility; creating the Standard Operating Procedures, training the volunteers and heading the patient flow and mental health departments. The facility, a 1,500-bed Isolation Unit, began admitting patients in April. My entire week from Monday to Sunday was spent at the facility, but it was extremely satisfying, knowing I was contributing all I could at a time when the world was helpless in the face of an invisible organism.

“In May, when the pandemic worsened and there was a severe shortage of beds for more serious cases, I helped set-up and then run a 150-bed Field High Dependency Unit on the same site.”