Rs 21.7 billion had been allocated to the Ministry of National Health Services

ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – Federal Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives, Asad Umar on Tuesday said the government would spend Rs 73.9 billion on health sector in different schemes during the current fiscal year.

In the current year’s Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) 2021-2022, Rs 21.7 billion had been allocated to the Ministry of National Health Services, regulation for 40 new and ongoing schemes, he said.

In a high-level policy review meeting, Federal Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives, Asad Umar made a detailed review of the new and ongoing health schemes that had received federal funding in the current and previous fiscal years here, said a press release issued.

This was a 50 percent increase from the budget allocated to the Ministry last year, he said.

In addition, Rs 2 billion had been allocated to health projects under the Finance Division, Rs 4.4 billion to health projects under Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan, and Rs 2.8 billion to health projects under Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, totaling to Rs 30.9 billion committed for improved health services for the people of Pakistan, he said.

The minister said these health schemes included ground-breaking of 16 new health facilities and two up-gradation projects, completion and inauguration of three new health facilities and 10 upgraded facilities in the current year, and completion of 12 new and nine upgraded health facilities in 2023.

He said these included the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Gynecology and Obstetrics in Rawalpindi, a state-of-the-art Accident and Emergency Centre at PIMS Islamabad, Upgradation of Neurology and Nephrology Departments of PIMS, Establishment of Polyclinics, a 200-bedded hospital in Skardu and a Medical and Nursing College and a Cardiac Hospital in Gilgit, Atomic energy commission hospitals’ upgradations in AJK, Karachi, Bahawalpur and Lahore.

While presenting the Puplic Sector Development Programme Portfolio for heath, Dr. Shabnum Sarfraz, Member Social Sector, highlighted that within these projects, Rs 3.6 billion was earmarked for five provincial projects.

She gave a detailed overview of the additional allocations made in FY 2021-2022 of, Rs 37.96 billion to the provinces under the COVID-19 Responsive Umbrella PC1 of the Ministry of Planning Development and Special Initiatives on a cost-sharing basis.

She said this was dedicated to strengthening the infectious disease management and critical care facilities in the Tehsil and district headquarter hospitals in the four provinces and two regions of the country.

Funding was also provided for improving the public health surveillance system across the country.

Under this umbrella scheme, Rs 5.02 billion of federal funding had been allocated to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which would support the up-gradation of 19 DHQs across 19 districts, she said.

An allocation of Rs 10.41 billion would support 16 DHQs, 23 THQs, four teaching hospitals across 21 districts of Sindh.

Punjab received Rs 19.59 billion worth of federal funds which would upgrade six DHQs and eight THQs across 11 districts. Rs 2.94 billion was allocated to Baluchistan for strengthening 32 hospitals.

Rs 1.6 billion were received by Gilgit Baltistan which would support the up-gradation of 10 DHQs in 10 districts, and Rs 1.1 billion to Azad Jammy and Kashmir would support the up-gradation of 10 DHQs, 10 THQs, and four teaching hospitals in 10 districts.

Additional funding of Rs 4.87 billion had been committed by the federal government exclusively for the less developed districts of South Baluchistan. Overall, a total of 152 health facilities would be upgraded across Pakistan to ensure last-mile quality health service delivery to people with updated diagnostics, infectious and critical care management capabilities.

Under the COVID-19 responsive federal funding, provincial governments would also be strengthening their early warning, disease surveillance and response systems, establishing public health laboratory networks, bolstering the preparedness and capacities of the international Points of Entry.

To support this, the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination had allocated Rs 4.5 billion.

While continuing to face the pandemic crisis, the government had not only protected health in the budgetary allocations but committed to critical and strategic projects, including stronger health systems, pandemic preparedness, and universal health coverage through Sehat Sahulat health protection schemes.

Overall Pakistan would be spending 410 percent higher in the current year than the previous years of the health budget.

This was also thrice the amount of total spend on health in last three years.

While the government of Pakistan was continuing its overhaul of the public sector health system, backing the structure and services with historically highest funding in the history of the country, the Minister had also advised fast-track execution and timely completion of the committed projects so that access and quality of care to people were ensured, and the commitments made were honored.