ISLAMABAD - World Bank has approved $258 million for the National Health Support Programme (NHSP) to strengthen primary health care systems and to accelerate national efforts towards universal health coverage in Pakistan.

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has supported primary healthcare and universal coverage to strengthen human capital in Pakistan.  The programme complements ongoing investments in human capital and builds on health reforms that aim to improve quality and equitable access to healthcare services, especially in communities lagging behind national and regional-level health outcomes.

The programme will focus on healthcare reforms across three main areas including healthcare coverage and quality of essential services to ensure adequate staffing, supplies and medicines, and enhance patient referral systems to expedite emergency and higher-level care. It would focus on governance and accountability to strengthen oversight and management of primary healthcare services through real-time monitoring of available supplies and essential medicines. This includes a central information platform for provincial authorities to assess gaps in service delivery across public and private healthcare facilities.

The programme will focus on healthcare financing to improve the financial management of primary healthcare centres for better expenditure tracking and budget forecasting to sustain quality healthcare services and delivery.

“Pakistan continues to make strides in health reforms toward ensuring access to primary healthcare services, especially for children and women during pregnancy and childbirth,” said Najy Benhassine, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “By strengthening provincial health systems, this programme is foundational to building the country’s human capital and improving health and nutrition outcomes for its citizens.”

“NHSP creates a national forum for the federal and provincial governments to exchange lessons and collaborate on achieving sustainable health financing and high quality and coverage of essential services,” said Hnin Hnin Pyne, Task Team Leader for the programme. “It also helps strengthen engagement between public and private facilities and better coordination among development partners on future investments in health.”

The programme will benefit all communities through improvements to provincial primary health care systems, particularly in approximately 20 districts that suffer from having the least access to health and nutrition services.

The NHSP is co-financed by the International Development Association ($258 million) and two grants ($82 million) from the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children and Adolescents (GFF), including a $40 million grant for protecting essential health services amid multiple global crises.

“The partnership between the GFF and the government of Pakistan focuses on building sustainable health systems while ensuring that all women, children and adolescents, especially in the most vulnerable communities can access the services they need amid multiple crises,” said Monique Vledder, Head of GFF’s secretariat.