ISLAMABAD: Minister for National Health Services (NHS) Aamer Mehmood Kiani on Saturday said allocation of funds and resources would make no difference in the health sector unless we control the rapidly increasing population of the country.

Chairing an interprovincial meeting of health and population ministers, he said: “The priority of the present government is the welfare and improved health status of the citizens. All of us have been mandated to serve the people and collectively we can achieve the result of ensuring good quality healthcare services to all.”

According to a statement, the meeting was convened to discuss key issues related to the healthcare in the country. All provinces as well as Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir attended the meeting.

A joint commitment was expressed by all the ministers to work closely to improve the quality of healthcare in the country.

Concerns were expressed over the high population growth in the country.

A renewed priority, especially to the lady health workers programme and improved availability of services at the health facilities, was agreed.

The provincial ministers said health workforce was a critical factor for the provision of quality health services and that the role of lady health workers, lady health visitors and nurses was of utmost importance.

The federal minister said he would take up the enhancement of budgetary allocation with Prime Minster Imran Khan.

All provincial ministers and secretaries agreed that the health sector would be kept above political priorities.

Reviewing the latest results in the health sector, the discussion focused on the increasing number of measles cases, challenges in the population sector, nutrition crisis and the need for a renewed strategic thought in the health sector while respecting the mandate of the provincial governments as a result of devolution.

The status of preparations for the measles campaign was also reviewed and all the provincial ministers pledged to achieve 100pc coverage during the campaign.

It was decided that highest political offices at the federal and provincial levels would be involved along with strong oversight and accountability mechanisms in the campaign.

It was agreed to form an emergency nutrition task force with representation from provinces to review and augment the response.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2018