Health Reforms – Priority of PTI’s govt

The rising level of interest in global health issues within the past few years has shown marked increase in health initiatives influenced by Sustainable Development Goals. 

These goals aim to build resilient health systems, to enhance the development of healthcare facilities and institutions, and to bring around equity through equal distribution of standardised quality health services to the global population, which includes Pakistan as well.

Pakistan, being the fifth most populous country of the world with a total population of over 220 million and a growth rate of 2.4pc has exacerbated the pressure to increase the effectiveness of its health sector, resources allocation and governance system. 

Punjab being the largest province of Pakistan and home to over 110 million has a large infrastructure and administrative machinery supporting the healthcare needs of the population. Global commitments signed by Pakistan are being undertaken by the Health Ministry in coordination with the UN and development agencies along with the provincial governments. 

Moreover, under the leadership of the Honorable Chief Minister, the Minister Health Punjab has chaired multiple consultative meetings.  The participants included the experts from local and international organizations like World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the Department for International Development (DFID). 

These efforts led to the development of a 10 year Punjab Health Sector Strategy (2019-28) aligned with the vision of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.  The strategy addresses 10 key thematic areas.

These thematic areas were namely; Maternal and Child Health, Nutrition & Family Planning, Preventive Health Services including Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), Patient Safety and Quality of Care, Medicines and Biomedical Equipment, Health Management Information System, Health Governance and Accountability, Human Resource for Health, Healthcare Financing & Public Private Partnership (PPP), Health Disaster Management and Emergency Medicine and One Health – Multi-Sectoral Engagement (including Environmental Health).

There was an alarming situation of health indicators shown in multiple health surveys conducted in 2017-18 as, infant mortality rate (60 per 1,000 live births) and maternal mortality ratio stands at 180 (expressed per 100,000 live births). 

For development of immune system to protect child from diseases, only 84pc of children (12-23 months age) are receiving all five vaccinations. 

Further, only 83pc of women delivering births in the presence of a skilled health professional (doctor, nurse or midwife). 

In addition, controlling population growth, the Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) stands at lower value of 38.3pc. Further, Hepatitis-C prevalence is 8.9pc and Hepatitis-B is 2.2pc. To counter health crises, several measures have been taken, including substantial financial allocations for healthcare, diversion of resources to preventive and primary healthcare programmes and institutionalised governance. 

Additionally, multiple initiatives have been started that are aligned with the health strategy which include the construction of a Mother & Child Healthcare Center (MCHC) at Mianwali, Lahore, Sardar Fateh Muhammad Khan Buzdar Institute of Cardiology, DG Khan and Nishtar-II Multan. Moreover, a children’s hospital in the University of Child Health Sciences, 1000 bedded new Hospital near Arfa Kareem Tower, Sheikh Zaid-II at Rahimyar Khan, Mother & Child hospitals at Multan, Attock, Rajanpur, Layyah and Bahawalnagar have also been approved.

One of the flagship initiatives of the current government, ‘The Sehat Sahulat Programme’ has been implemented in all 36 districts of Punjab. 

It is playing a crucial role in providing quality health care and insurance to the underprivileged in all districts.  

Another notable initiative of the Insaf Medicine Card has been launched by Government of Punjab for patients of hepatitis, AIDS and TB.  

The project is providing free of cost medicines to hepatitis, AIDS and TB patients and will cover 9,862 AIDS patients, 23,560 hepatitis and 70,047 TB patients. 

Moreover, a total of 174,882 patients in 36 districts of Punjab would receive cards.

The Medical Teaching Institutions Act-2020 (MTI) once implemented will result in medical Teaching Institutes becoming autonomous in their administration, financials and decision-making. In addition, The Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute and Research Centre Act 2019 (PKLI) has been implemented. 

PKLI act helps to remove legal hurdles in human organ transplantations, making an effective and useful institution for treatment of liver and kidney diseases.  To conclude, an efficient health governance system must develop synergies between structures and mechanisms that can collaborate across all health sectors. 

It is important to tackle health through a multi-sectoral and holistic approach. 

This will not only promote collaboration but will also engage citizens, independent agencies & expert bodies through robust regulation and regulatory mechanisms in achieving majority of the SDG’s by the end of their target period.


The writer is Head SMU, CM Office.


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