The case study looks at how Bahrain managed to overcome challenges through readiness and early response, the WHO said, as the pandemic took hold around the world.
It praises the country for forming a national task force in February 2020 — three weeks before its first case was reported. A round-the-clock “war room” was also formed.
Then, on February 19, five days before the first case was detected, a multilingual national campaign was launched to reinforce awareness and provide guidance on how to prevent the spread of the disease.
When the first case was detected on February 24, the task force came up with a comprehensive government response, with more than 50,000 volunteers registering to help.
The case study was launched during a press conference by Bahrain's Health Minister Dr Jaleela Hasan and Dr Ahmed Al Mandhari, the WHO's regional director for the eastern Mediterranean, alongside other officials.
Countries and health systems can bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic by sharing best practices to establish new health emergency partnerships, the WHO said.
Dr Hasan said Bahrain was proud to have its experience documented by the WHO.
“Commitment at the highest political level was instrumental to the success of Bahrain’s Covid-19 response,” she said.
“Under the leadership of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Bahrain managed to take significant strides to ensure the highest possible levels of safety and maintain health and well-being for all citizens and residents even before the first Covid-19 case was detected in the country.”
Bahrain faced challenges such as repurposing its workforce, acquiring enough protective equipment and reaching out to vulnerable populations.
Dr Al Mandhari praised the high-level collaboration between the Bahraini health authorities and the WHO in responding to the pandemic.
“Under the wise leadership of His Majesty the king and the follow up of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince and Prime Minister in Bahrain, and through close co-ordination [with] the Ministry of Health, all concerned ministries, the Supreme Council of Health and the WHO, Bahrain’s response to the pandemic proved to be very timely, comprehensive and successful.
“We are glad to be part of this endeavour through our new WHO Country Office, which aims to expand [the] WHO's longstanding partnership with the government of Bahrain to achieve national and global health goals and make [the] WHO’s regional vision of 'Health for All by All' a reality on the ground.”
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In a video message, WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he hoped lessons from Bahrain’s experience would be useful for other countries in the region.
Dr Tasnim Atatrah, the WHO’s representative to Bahrain, said documenting the country’s experiences with Covid-19 would strengthen future global responses to health emergencies.
“Through this report, WHO seeks to increase the communication and exchange of lessons learnt among those working in the field of health emergency in [the] WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region and beyond,” she said.
“The report is part of Bahrain’s contribution to the exchange of global best practice to strengthen health emergency preparedness and response across borders.”