LAHORE, June 17: The Punjab government has added some new schemes in the budget proposals for the 2013-14 fiscal, with a total allocation of Rs97.37 billion for the province’s health sector, focusing more on preventive side than the curative.
Of these, Rs4 billion has been allocated for ‘Pilot Health Insurance Card Scheme’ that will be introduced initially in four districts of Punjab.
Another major initiative will be the proposed ‘Punjab Reproductive, Maternal, New Born and Child Health Authority that will be established following necessary legislation.
Some other major schemes for which allocations had been made include Integrated Reproductive Maternal New Born, Child Health and Nutrition Programme, for which an amount of Rs2 billion has been earmarked. The programme will be run in all 36 districts of the province. Under a scheme new ambulances will also be purchased.
Besides, a sum of Rs150 million has been allocated for the establishment of three drug testing labs, one each in Multan, Rawalpindi and Lahore and food testing labs in Faisalabad and Rawalpindi.
The government has also introduced some changes to its health policy and hinted at giving priority to the preventive side instead of making allocations for the curative care.
The total health sector allocation of Rs97.37 billion includes the expenditure on development and current sides of the budget, both at provincial and district levels. Of them, an allocation of Rs44.62 billion was made for the health department which was 25 per cent more as compared to the Rs35.65 billion made for 2012-13 fiscal.
Major allocations were for ‘hospital services’ which include current expenditures on autonomous medical institutions. The allocation for hospital services has been increased to Rs42.90 billion for the 2013-14 fiscal as against Rs32.81 billion made for FY-2012-13. This translates into an increase of Rs10.08 billion for provision of health services in accordance with the government’s priority.
The government also increased allocation for the provision of drugs and medicines to Rs7.62 billion from Rs5.84 billion allocated for the purpose in FY- 2012-13.
In addition to these allocations, Rs3 billion have been earmarked for health development budget under Punjab Millennium Development Goals Programme as a separate financing item.
Besides, through a phased programme, it will be ensured that all district governments spend at least 30 per cent of their health sector budget on non-salary purposes i.e. provision of medicines, purchase of necessary equipment etc. An additional conditional grant of Rs500 million will be provided during FY-2013-14 to district governments for the purpose. It is expected that the programme, to be completed in next 4-5 years, will go a long way in provision of better health services in the province.
The budget document says the government has proposed Rs200 million for the cleanliness in some rural districts as a pilot project to fight communicable or infectious diseases.
Similarly, a huge amount of Rs10.87 billion has been allocated for the installation of water filtration plants in the rural districts, besides completion of some ongoing schemes.
In addition to this, the government has included 26 new development schemes in the ongoing 112 projects. Of these, 35 ongoing and 11 new projects will be completed during the FY-2013-14.
According to the budget document, priority will be given to south Punjab where Rs1.48 billion health initiatives will be undertaken. Allocations had been made for the establishment of burn centres at the Children’s Hospital and Nishtar Hospital, Multan, cardiology department of Bahawal Victoria Hospital (BVH), Bahawalpur, a 410-bed hospital in Bahawalpur district, establishment of Sheikh Zayed Medical College in Rahim Yar Khan and to run Thalassemia schemes in the BVH.