Islamabad, 6 April 2021: Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) has launched a working paper on National Health Policy on the occasion of World Health Day. It comprises practical suggestions as to how the obsolete present system of health delivery in Pakistan can be changed to a much better one.
Firstly, it demanded that health be declared a ‘fundamental right’ of all Pakistani citizens in the Constitution of Pakistan and a national health survey be conducted every ten years. The findings of this survey should form the basis of steps to be taken to improve the health sector.
The doctors organisation emphasised on the immediate need for an increase in health budget from Rs 400 billion to Rs 600 billion as the present amount was insufficient to cater for masses.
It also advised that the budget be increased by Rs 100 billion every year. To achieve this end which increased with time. It suggested that taxes (Rs. 120-150 billion) collected from tobacco, beverages and junk food industries be spent on the health sector. About 30% of the federal and provincial governments’ spending on the health sector should be spent on disease prevention, awareness and nutrition. Out of this 30% it suggested 5% should be spent on medical research which has been neglected for decades. 10% of the total expenditure of the federal and provincial government health departments be spent on rehabilitation of the disabled.
The press release advised that hepatitis B / C, HIV / AIDS, tobacco control, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer prevention, mental health, neonatal and maternal health be given priority at national and provincial levels.
It stressed the need for an integrated model to be developed to provide healthcare facilities in which public and private institutions and NGOs worked together.
The working paper points out that EPI vaccination covers about 80% of the population in Pakistan, whereas coverage should be 98 to 100%. This was necessary to prevent diseases and to control vaccinations. Newborns in particular should be provided with a free hepatitis vaccine.
PIMA also called for women’s health to be made a priority. Similarly, steps should be taken to know the nutritional status of children under 3 years of age and those malnourished be provided nutrition if the mortality rate in newborns and mothers was to be reduced. It was a bitter fact that Pakistan was one of the countries in the world with the highest infant and maternal mortality rate.
The working paper added that out of total deaths due to non communicable diseases, 40% were related to tobacco use. It called for newer and effective strategies to prevent the habit of using tobacco (Gutka, Naswar etc.)
Finally, it advised that prevailing District Headquarters Hospitals be improved instead of establishing new ones.