PM Shehbaz calls for global health equity, climate resilience at WEF

PM Shehbaz calls for global health equity, climate resilience at WEF


PM Shehbaz calls for global health equity, climate resilience at WEF

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RIAYDH (Dunya News) – Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday, while terming the global inequity in the health sector as the first and foremost problem, called for bridging the widening gap between the Global South and the Global North.

Expressing his views during a session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on global health in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, the premier highlighted that the Covid-19 pandemic had exposed the existing gaps largely between the Global North and Global South in terms of provision of health facilities and distribution of vaccines.

PM Shehbaz said that the issue of climate change had also completely changed the landscape. He noted that “Pakistan was not responsible for any global emissions, yet in 2022, it faced worst climate-triggered floods which hugely devastated the infrastructure and buildings and as a consequence, they had to spend billions of rupees to rehabilitate the affected people”.

He emphasised that for such rehabilitation efforts, they had to seek costly loans, questioning, "Can a developing country like Pakistan afford it?" He observed that developing countries like Pakistan required substantial resources for providing health facilities.

“The yawning gap between the Global South and the Global North should be bridged,” he underscored.

Sharing his personal experiences, the prime minister said that treatment for fatal diseases like cancer was too costly for the poor population of Pakistan.

During his stint as the chief minister of Punjab, he recalled, he had provided about 130 million people with the best medical treatment initiatives like screening and treatment facilities for hepatitis in the remotest and backward areas of the province, where the poor people had been in dire need of basic facilities like education and health.

The prime minister further informed that as the former chief minister, he also established the first kidney and liver hospital in Punjab, which was possibly one of the best in Asia where poor patients were provided with free of cost treatment.

About the dengue outbreak in 2011 in the province, Shehbaz shared that the phenomenon in the health sector was one of the biggest in the world. But, he added, they got experts and equipment and with the cooperation of the entire government machinery, civil society and common man launched a massive drive against the dengue larvae.

“We were able to control the outbreak with collective efforts and meager resources,” he said, adding that it was a test case for the global study in the health sector.

The prime minister, in his remarks, appreciated the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for their support and provision of vaccines for polio eradication drives in Pakistan.

He also acknowledged Bill Gates’ generosity during the 2022 floods to support the affected people of Pakistan.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed collective efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

He shared his concerns over the mortality rates of mothers and children, adding that about 54 countries were still far behind in achieving the SDGs targets. Another 4.9 billion people across the globe had no access to basic services, he added.

The DG said that the world was vulnerable to any pandemic but they had learned from the past experiences and were building on it.

Other participants opined that the conflicts in the world were increasing and impacting the health sector requirements, and stressed that resource-rich countries should assist the communities in need.

They underlined the need for investing more in the health sector.