Minister: (Health minister calls for stronger regional cooperation to fight disease and disability)


ISLAMABAD: Addressing health ministers of 23 countries from South Asia, North Africa, Middle East and West Asia participating in WHO Regional Committee meeting in Kuwait, Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar said that Pakistan Government has recently launched a major initiative to provide universal health coverage by reaching out to the most vulnerable segment with a comprehensive National Health Insurance Initiative – The Prime Minister’s Health Insurance Program.

According to a press release received here on Tuesday, she said the Programme shall be implemented in a phased manner to eventually cover 100 million people through public and private health care facilities.

She said Pakistan has had that its share of serious challenges in the Polio Eradication effort. Of these, the security situation was the most challenging.

However, we have emerged stronger and wiser from the crisis that impeded our progress over the last two years. “I am glad to report that major gains have been made this year in reaching unreached children with 82 percent reduction in polio cases, she added.

“We believe that introduction of Injectable Polio Vaccine in the Routine Immunization Program earlier this year and switch from trivalent polio vaccine to bivalent polio vaccine would give a boost to Polio Eradication efforts” she said.

She said recently, we were able to reach an agreement for CDC and DFID support for establishing a world class Public Health laboratories network and disease surveillance system in Pakistan. This we believe would be a major boost to our disease prevention and control efforts.

Pakistan will be looking to work with WHO, partners and regional countries to strengthen Disease surveillance and response mechanisms.

She said the number of people with disabilities are on increase world-wide. Besides the diseases related causes of disability, there is an additional burden in the Eastern Mediterranean Region due to ongoing wars and conflicts in a number of Member States.

People today everywhere are living longer than previous generations, even with increasing rates of chronic health conditions. Globally, the number of people with disabilities worldwide will increase from 841 million now to more than 2 billion by 2050 including those in the EMR0 region.

Ms Tarar said that Pakistan shares the concern of regional community and recognizes that the burden of disease due to Non Communicable Disease is on the rise. A special NCDs unit was created in my Ministry and an NCDs plan of Action has been finalized in consultation with Province.

She said cognizant of the need to ensure provision of quality and affordable drugs to our people, for the first time in the history of the country, a drug pricing policy was introduced. The policy provided for a transparent system of pricing where discretion was done away with.

To fight the menace of spurious drugs, we are in the process of introducing Bar Code system with global unified identification number, she added.