“Health for all should be a key government agenda”

Islamabad, 21 June 2019: Professor Mohammad Afzal Mian, the central president of the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA), has said that the government and political parties should make their agenda “health for everyone” and legislate to make health as the basic right of every citizen in the constitution. Health budget should be increased upto 600 billion and it should add 100 billion a year. Tax and Revenue from Tobacco, Beverages and junk Foods should be spent on health. There is need of an effective strategy to control non-communicable diseases.

While expressing his views in the National Budget Seminar in Islamabad on 19th June 2019, he said that the health has been declared as a provincial subject in the constitution, but the provinces have not been given any vision and policy for this subject. At present, the government is spending directly and indirectly Rs 460 billion on health, which is just 25 percent of the total amount spent in the overall health sector. Out of this, 70 percent is spent on salaries and 20 percent on development projects. Unfortunately, 10% budget is not used.

He said that non-communicable diseases (NCD) are our biggest problem, but the government has no attention on these. Of the 210 million population, 80 million people (38%) suffer from these diseases.  About 70% of the deaths are due to non-communicable diseases, including high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, stroke, tobacco related and other diseases. 40 million people are suffering from high blood pressure, half of which are unaware of their disease. The result of nonexistence of policy about NCD is that daily 800 people die from heart diseases, 400 people from cancer, 400 people from stroke and 50 people from the trauma / road traffic accidents. At present 300,000 patients are on kidney dialysis and their number is increasing 40,000 annually.

He said at present only one doctor is available for 1073 people and only one bed for 1593 patient with the private and public sector hospitals in the Health Infrastructure.

He said these conditions require that the government and all the parties should make health their agenda and legislate to make health in the constitution as the basic right of every citizen. The National Health Survey should be done immediately. 50% of the government’s expenditure should be spent on primary health care and prevention. Attention should be paid to provision of clean water, vaccination and prevention of accidents. There should be an effective ban on quackery. Government, NGOs, and especially media should play their role to discourage smoking. Special focus is required on special individuals. Such individuals, in the decent communities, are considered responsibility of government and society. There needs to be an effective strategy to deal with high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, stroke and other non-communicable diseases. Instead of the establishment of new hospitals in the big cities, all facilities should be provided by upgrading the District and Tehsil Headquarters hospitals. It will also help reduce patients’ burden on the hospitals of big cities, and provide quality treatment facility to the masses.

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