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50% population to be covered with health cards: Kiani meets WHO regional director

Islamabad- Federal Health Minister Aamir Mehmood Kiani has reaffirmed government’s resolve to make Pakistan a polio free country.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director Dr Ahmed Salim Saif Al-Mandhari on a four day visit to Pakistan called on Federal Health Minister Aamer Mehmood Kiani along with his delegation.

The regional director who heads the WHO region comprising 22 countries, expressed appreciation for the health reforms being introduced by the present government and pledged all out support of WHO in strengthening the health system in Pakistan.

Talking to the visiting dignitary, Aamir Mehmood Kiani said under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan the government was committed to strengthening the health sector. Allocation for health is being significantly enhanced. The government has decided to scale up health insurance programmes to all districts of Pakistan. By the end of 2019, we will be covering around 50 percent of the population with health cards. The benefits package has been doubled with additional services included. To achieve universal health coverage, the family practice approach is being piloted in 12 districts, across all provinces with the support of WHO.

He said that for the first time, health tax was being introduced by the government. This will go a long way in reducing smoking prevalence, increasing revenues and financing healthcare. Improving quality of patient-care and services in hospitals is being given special attention, shared the minister.

The government is focusing on strengthening immunisation programme and improving its coverage to protect mothers and children from deadly diseases. The recently held measles campaign was the best ever in terms of coverage which was also validated by third party.

The government is committed to strengthen International Health Regulations (IHR) core capacities. In this regard, 18 non-functional points of entry at international borders are being made functional and strengthened.

The minister said that the government was fully committed to the goal of eradication of polio from Pakistan and special attention is being given to polio reservoirs.

A real-time integrated disease surveillance and response system is being piloted in selected districts across the country for effective prevention, case detection and response against disease outbreaks. The health system in Islamabad has been integrated for improved efficiency and better health outcomes.

The ministry has prioritised Tuberculosis (TB) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), in order to reduce the burden of both TB and HIV in the country.

The regional director said Pakistan is the largest country in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region and success in Pakistan reflects the success of entire region. He said Pakistan was a key player in the region adding that no effort will be spared in supporting Pakistan to strengthen its health system. WHO Regional Polio Chief Dr Chris Maher and Health System Development Director Dr Zafar Mirza accompanied the regional director.

A detailed technical briefing was given to the visiting dignitary by General Health Director Dr Asad Hafeez on steps being taken to transform the health sector. Health Secretary Captain (r) Zaid Saeed apprised about major initiatives being undertaken by the ministry to improve health-care.

January 2, 2019

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