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Healthcare system stressed
By: Rasheed Khalid
Islamabad : Minister of State for Health Dr Zafar Mirza has said that no country can achieve improvements on health indicators including child mortality rate, life expectancy rate etc. without an effective and quality primary healthcare.
The minister of state was delivering the keynote address at a talk on ‘Health Vision of Government of Pakistan’ organised here by Sustainable Development Policy Institute.
Dr Mirza said that the government vision is to ensure universal healthcare coverage (UHC) for every individual which included the full spectrum of essential, quality health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care.
He said primary that healthcare is the backbone and foundation for improved healthcare system in a country being ignored since long in Pakistan. He said that healthcare system has become disease-oriented rather health-oriented where health is much larger subject which includes physical and mental health, social health and wellbeing. He lamented that right to health was not guaranteed in our constitutions since 1947 owing to lopsided and inconsistent policies that made Pakistan a hospital-oriented country. He regretted that 70 to 80 per cent health budget goes to big hospitals and Basic Health Unites (BHUs) are not provided even much needed basic facilities.
He observed that major macro level programmes of health sector such as Hepatitis, Malaria and HIV control programmes were either weakened or closed largely due to lack of proper coordination among provinces and centre after 18th amendment.
He said that devolution of power does not mean that the Federal Government is absolved of its national responsibilities. Dr Mirza said that the Federal Government can have regulatory framework at the national level within the umbrella of 18th constitutional amendment. He stressed the need for a well thought-out, integrative and effective national regulatory framework for health services.
Dr Nousheen Hamid, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination, said that Pakistan is an over legislative country where implementation remained one of the major challenges. She said there are 196 laws related to health sector and some of the laws are too old which require fundamental revision to the modern needs. She said there is need for uniformity in legislation through enhanced coordination among centre and provinces within the umbrella of 18th amendment.
Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, said that during the 2018 election campaign, Imran Khan expressed his attention for health justice where income level could not be a hurdle in access to health facilities. He said this resolve was expressed in the letter of intent of his government to the IMF where social protection was the third major pillar of the programme.

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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.