More funds demanded to improve primary healthcare in Sindh

KARACHI: Health experts on Tuesday urged the Sindh government to allocate more funds on improvement of primary healthcare centres, taluka and district level hospitals to facilitate people.

Secretary General, Pakistan Medical Association (PMA- Centre), Dr SM Qaisar Sajjad, while talking to reporter, said Sindh’s public health sector has been given boost by 26 per cent increase in annual budget for fiscal year 2017-18. He said the government has allocated Rs 100.32billion for healthcare sector, adding the budget was Rs 79.88billion during the 2016-17.

He said rise of annual health budget is a good omen but high ups of health department must utilize and allocate the budget more on strengthening and improving primary healthcare centers across the Sindh province. This will help reduce the burden on tertiary-care hospitals. He said the PMA has been demanding allocation of more budgets on preventive side instead on curative side to make a healthy and disease-free society.

He said the health budget should be earmarked as per World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation – about six percent of Gross Domestic Product(GDP) but the government is spending only one or two percent of GDP on health sector. He said unfortunately most of allocated health budget is misused every year due to poor administration and lack of a proper check and balance system.

He said score of people die annually due to waterborne diseases like diarrhea, typhoid and gastrointestinal diseases due to unavailability of clean drinking water in small towns, as well as, major cities of the province. He said diseases like malaria, dengue and Chikungunya are also on the rise in the province owing to unhygienic and poor sanitation conditions.

Another PMA leader, Dr Mirza Ali Azhar, appreciated the provincial government for allocation of more funds for improving health facilities, vaccination coverge, enhancing funds of institution like SIUT and Indus Hospital Karachi but also was concerned that 26 per cent surge in annual budget can open door for corruption if the governance is not improved in context of proper utilization of budget.

He said a big chunk of budget is not utilized in the province every year due to poor governance and lack of priorities. He said asked the provincial government to adopt a zero tolerance policy towards corruption to improve the overall situation. He said budget should be properly utilized from grassroots to top level in a transparent manner in order to improve health delivery system.

He said the provincial government must give focus on environment management to prevent people from dengue, malaria, Chikungunya and other diseases and it should also ensure provision of clean drinking water throughout the province.

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