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Business Recorder

Published Date: Aug 9, 2011

NHSP ENSURES TO ATTAIN ‘HEALTH FOR ALL’ GOAL

Experts at a seminar discussed and explored the vision of a new National Healthcare System for Pakistan (NHSP) with a strategy to attain the “health for all” goal. They demanded to put health as a priority on political agenda. Participants were briefed of new proposed National Healthcare System (NHSP), comprising of an autonomous body, population based distribution of medical facilities and a resource generation plan able to accumulate around Rs 324 billion annually.

The seminar “National Healthcare System for Pakistan” was organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday. Dr Ghulam Nabi Kazi, National Professional Officer, Programme Development TB Control, World Health Organisation (WHO) Pakistan, Dr Muhammad Saleem, Post Graduate Resident Cardiology, Punjab Institute of Cardiology, Lahore and Iftikhar Ahmad, Consultant, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) spoke at the event while Dr Sania Nishter, President, Heart File, Islamabad, chaired the proceedings.

Dr Sania said that Pakistan’s healthcare system can better perform with sufficient funding, good governance and implying the transparent and appropriate use of resources. She said while studying the course of reforms in Pakistan, we see that the only thing which lacks is the policy consistency and proper implementation. She stressed the need for re-engineering and restructuring of health system at all levels by introducing innovative approaches.

Dr Saleem shared details of newly-proposed healthcare system, adding that existing healthcare system had failed to cater for the needs of people. Citing several statistics, he maintained that current system suffers poor governance, inadequacy, inaccessibility, inequality and poor financing. “In the first decade of the 21st Century, we have lost almost 4.8 million children. Further more Pakistan has the lowest life expectancy as compared to average life expectancies in all the regions of the world with the exception of Africa,” he added.

Dr Salem said that new system with its own resource generation formula is envisioned to provide free medical care to all across the county based upon principles of Universal Coverage, Equity, Adequacy and Transparency. The new system proposes an Autonomous Body supported by Specialised Departments and operated by Comprehensive Health Units inline with Regulation, Integration and an innovative Resource Generation Plan.

He said that under the new NHSP plan, population based distribution of the healthcare facilities would ensure to attain the “health for all” goal and to address the rural urban disparities, inadequacy and other barriers to healthcare delivery. A comprehensive health unit would be established for each subset of the population. He stated that the new NHSP plan would have other important components such as Health Management Information System, Medical Courts, Health Accountability Bureau, and Pakistan Medical Council.

Iftikhar Ahmed presented the groundbreaking resource generation plan for the new system. He briefed that the plan would involve each citizen of Pakistan requiring them to pool a premium of Rs 5 per person per day. He identified several other sources such as Budgetary Allocations by Federal and Provincial Governments, Payment on Service Usage, Charity, Income Support Programmes and Foreign Aid. He said that this plan would be able to accumulate Rs 324 billion annually. This new reservoir of resources along with the existing resource heads would help in reducing the financial barrier to universal healthcare delivery and could possibly provide financial risk protection, he added.

Giving a detailed presentation on country’s healthcare system, Dr Ghulam Nabi Kazi said that country has a good health infrastructure and facilities but underlined the importance of having innovative work as well as an informed decision-making system and creation of centralised data system. He lamented that over the last decade, the GDP ratio of health spending has been less than 0.6 percent.

Dr Nabi identified some priority areas for action including institutional strengthening involving the dual responsibility of World Health Organisation (WHO), by putting greater focus on building the capacity of provinces and health system. Talking of post-devolution scenario, he said it was much-delayed process and should have been implemented much earlier adding that still there are reservations that health should be dealt with as a specialised subject and ultimately there would be a need to have a division at federal level to take care of relevant matters as provinces are unclear even until late June about their roles and about health.