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Health Minister chairs meeting on universal health coverage

KARACHI: The Minister for Health and Population Welfare Sindh, Dr Azra Pechuho, recently chaired a meeting on Universal Health Coverage in the province with the Joint Mission of the UN Health Development and International Civil Society Organization Partners of Global Action Plan.

The meeting was also attended by Secretary Health, Dr Kazim Jatoi, DG Health Services, Dr Irshad Memon, Director Development, Dr Dabeer Ahmed, Deputy DG’s from RMNCH, CDC, NCDs were in attendance as well.

The meeting provided a recap of the underway efforts in Sindh and the ones that are in motion of being implemented. One of the ways health and medical services are being provided to as many regions of the province is through public and private contracts being revisited and revised in order to cover the basics of healthcare.

Measures have been taken to streamline the health infrastructure in policy and practice, and one of the steps to achieve this entailed combining separate illnesses under one program such as dengue, malaria, and leishmaniasis now comes under vector-borne diseases, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS are part of the program of the communicable disease, etc. This allows for the Health Department to better manage resources, screenings, and treatments for these illnesses in order to more efficiently provide the services needed by the province.

Lady Health Workers (LHWs) are a great resource at the community level and can large scale coverage when it comes to outreach, immunization, and reproductive health campaigns. However, due to the immense team of LHWs, funding must be increased in order to provide them with adequate salaries and pensions. Karachi is one of the areas that need more LHWs due to the vast population of the city and the many demographics that do not have the opportunity to avail the services of LHWs.

Sindh has started regular screening and treatment for Hepatitis C and providing a birth dose against Hepatitis B, as incidences of this are increasingly common. The province is also witnessing instances of drug resistant tuberculosis and typhoid. One of the reasons for this is the lack of regulation in dispensaries and pharmacies; over the counter medication may be aggravating the situation when credible prescription medication is required.

Due to HIV being a hidden disease due to stigma, every pregnant woman will be screened for the disease at the DHO level. Autolock syringes will be rolled out at all health facilities to discourage the use of sharing needles. Law enforcement, health service providers and the community must be sensitized to HIV to reduce stigma.

Family planning is a major part of population welfare, and contraceptives, birth control and reproductive counselling are being provided throughout the province. Sindh is the first province in the country to provide access to a self-injecting contraceptive called the Sayana Press.

Sindh also wishes to provide the best standard of healthcare with the lowest, if any, cost to the patient, and so special emphasis is given to funding and improving public healthcare services. During the last year in the pandemic, public faith in government provided hospitals increased, and many availed their free of cost services and treatments

-MN Report

March 3, 2021

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