Govt recognizes access to quality health-care services as inherent right of every citizen: Saira

ISLAMABAD: Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar on Tuesday said the government recognized access to quality health-care services the inherent right of every citizen.

“We have laid down health as a priority agenda in Pakistan and it is only through provision of quality and affordable health services that the nation can achieve its full potential and gains on the

economic and social fronts,” she said while addressing the WHO regional committee meeting on Good Practice on Social Health Protection.

The minister said the government had envisioned that “unless we reach out to the poorest of the poor with a comprehensive package of curative health services that is available in both public and private sector free of charge, we will not be able to achieve the goal of providing Universal Health Coverage to this highly vulnerable segment of the society.”

Prime Minister’s National Health Programme, she said, was a social health protection initiative designed to provide a path to reach Universal Health Coverage in Pakistan. “In its first phase we are providing free of cost health insurance to families living below poverty line to access quality indoor health care services from empanelled health care facilities.

“ I am pleased to announce that we have started implementing programmes and now-a-days (are) working on taking the programme to its next level.”

She said after completion the Prime Minister’s National Health Programme (PMNHP) would eventually be focusing on around 100 million people across the country. That would indeed be the real revolution when people got the treatment for different ailments free of cost from the best public or private health facility, she added.

“I am confident that this revolution in the health sector will go a long way in turning around the state of health in the country and improve our indicators.”

The programme, once fully implemented, she added, would be a major step in poverty alleviation through the reduction of financial barriers for quality health care services. It would also bring equity in health services as the poor would now get the same quality of services as the affluent class both in public and private sector health facilities.

The minister said, “We are piloting multiple innovation in the programme through which its beneficiaries will be provided with services for high burden diseases, which were not present in the current phase.”

“Through these pilot programmes we are not only developing linkages with already existing primary health care services but also bringing in out patient services in the programme.”

She said currently the PMNHP was being in the process of implementation in 40 districts. Twenty-six districts had already been rolled down and the process of beneficiary enrolment had been started in remaining districts.

“We are providing health care services to more than 1.6 million families and are hoping to reach a target of three million families during current financial year.”

She said, “Let’s work together and move to a level where no individual or family is drawn into poverty due to catastrophic health expenditure or unable to access quality health care services due to financial insecurities.“