ANKARA: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Thursday emphasized that Pakistan and Turkey should continue to address health and economic challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and step-up cooperation in vaccine development. The prime minister, in a meeting with Turkish Health Minister Dr Fahrettin Koca who called on him during his three-day official visit here, congratulated him over the commendable handling of COVID-19 by Turkey. During the meeting, the prime minister stressed the importance of enhancing bilateral cooperation in the health sector. He appreciated President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for transforming the health system in Turkey in the last two decades. He recalled several joint initiatives undertaken by the Turkish government in Pakistan in the health sector, especially in health services, pharmaceuticals, digital health and training and capacity building of medical professionals. Shehbaz Sharif greatly admired the Turkish generosity witnessed during the 2005 earthquake and 2010 floods. He particularly appreciated the establishment of Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital in Muzaffargarh following the massive floods in Pakistan. He advised the Turkish-Pakistan Joint Working Group (JWG) on Health to undertake in-depth discussions on various aspects of bilateral health cooperation. The prime minister underscored the importance of following up on various initiatives, including collaboration in establishing pathology labs, enhanced functioning of the Pakistan Kidney Liver Institute (PKLI), and automobile ambulances. The Turkish health minister highlighted the potential for enhanced collaboration in various aspects of the health field, such as manufacturing of medical equipment and pharmaceuticals, health tourism and quality control. He indicated that a team from the Turkish Health Ministry would visit Pakistan in the near future. The health minister also informed that a “Pak-Medica Expo and Business Forum” would be held in Pakistan in October this year. During the meeting, it was agreed, that the two sides will remain engaged on agreed areas of cooperation through the Joint Working Group on Health.