Call for proper utilization health budget

Karachi: A pre-budget health seminar was organized by Save the Children’s Every One campaign to propose the allocation of budget for Immunization, Lady Health Workers and Nutrition.

Sindh has a low life expectancy and high incidence of illness yet the health department has not received its due allocation. Provincial Manager Advocacy and Campaign at Save the Children Pakistan Program Iqbal Detho said the health sector with an allocated budget of Rs53.4 billion for 2013-14 was among the top four priority sectors in Sindh budget last year.

Harris Gazdar of Collective Research Centre said that for good health, nutrition is essential. In the previous year the budget that government of Sindh had allocated was Rs 158 million but not a single amount had been spent so proper monitoring of available funds was required.

He informed that government of Sindh through its Inter Sectorial Nutrition Strategy (ISNS), will address the issue of stunting which is 44.5 percent in children yet there is no budgetary allocation.

Research Fellow of Pakistan Study Centre Abid Ali Abbassi said that health issue is on priority in all political parties including Pakistan People’s Party, Pakistan Muslim league (N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), but there is a disconnect when it comes to meeting commitments.

Social Policy Development (SPDC) Muhammad Sabir said that due to non-availability of funds,21 percent children become ill in a year which is an alarming situation and 17 percent ill people are treated by government hospitals and 47 percent by private hospitals.

He further informed that the government has allocated only Rs0.1 billion on Extended Program of Immunization and Rs.158 million for Sindh Nutrition Support program for which no allocation was made for LHW as this program will be financed by federal government upto 2015 under 7th NFC award.

Dr Riaz Shaikh said that major share of budget is coming from donors and programs need to be tailored to primary and secondary health services. He further told that budget should reflect socio-economic development priorities.

Head of MNCH Program Sindh Dr Sahib Jan Badar stressed for integration of programs and strengthening of community midwives.

Dr Iqbal Memon also emphasized on the immunization program in the wake of outbreak of measles and other contagious diseases.

MPA-PML-N Sorth Thebo spoke about the plight of women and children in Thar and assured that she would raise the budgetary issues for population the in standing committee so that sufficient funds are allotted and properly utilized.

MPA-PPP and member of Sindh Infant Feeding Board Syed Nasir Shah highlighted the vision of his party and leadership for the cause of children and women in Sindh.

He said that as parliamentarian he would raise these concerns in the standing committee on finance department and called for interaction between civil society and government.

People from various sectors, child rights movement, government departments and research institutes attended the program was held at local hotel.

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