Draft health policy likely to be devised within a week

Updated October 19, 2018

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Enforcement of the new health policy is part of the PTI's 100-day agenda. ─ Photo courtesy PTI Twitter
Enforcement of the new health policy is part of the PTI's 100-day agenda. ─ Photo courtesy PTI Twitter

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is formulating a draft of health policy and devising a strategy for its implementation to improve healthcare along with strengthening regulations as part of the first 100-day agenda of the ruling PTI, according to officials.

Health Sector Reforms Unit in collaboration with DFID UK, USAID, WHO, UNFPA, Unicef, JICA, Aga Khan Health Services, Pakistan Population Welfare Council, Khyber Medical University and Khyber Medical College is busy in analysing the situation and hammering out a document that would be presented to the provincial cabinet for approval prior to assuming status of health policy.

A Health Policy Advisory Council, formed for the purpose, has held two meetings with health minister in the chair wherein participants took into account ground realities regarding need of human resources for health management and development. A core group is likely to formulate a draft along with strategy for its implementation within a week.

Enforcement of new policy part of PTI’s 100-day plan

Officials said that the new policy would reflect the national health vision that was aimed at achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with focus on essential immunisation, mother and child health, improvement in primary, secondary and tertiary care services through utilisation of available resources and fulfillment of gaps.

They said that at present only 0.4 per cent of the GDP was allocated to health sector and 85 per cent of it went to secondary and tertiary care while the primary healthcare got 15 per cent. According to the Pakistan Vision 2025, three per cent of GDP should be allocated to health sector to cater to the needs of the population.

Recently, the Insaf Doctors Forum (IDF) made a presentation before the health task force formed by prime minister wherein allocation of 2.6 per cent was demanded in line with the PTI’s vision and setting priorities for health allocations with distribution of funds according to demand and need of the people.

The health department, which is actively engaged in formation of the draft policy, is likely to further enhance coverage of the Sehat Sahulat Programme under which 125,000 patients have received free treatment at a cost of Rs4 billion.

Officials said that the new policy would also suggest ways to invest in health sector and enhance public-private partnership and seek input and support from the international agencies to benefit the people visiting the state-run hospitals.

IDF has pointed out shortage of health professionals, weak primary healthcare services, absence of referral system and lack of financial resources as major issues responsible for the problems of the people. The formulators of the new policy will take these issues into account.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has about 1,500 health facilities with 60,000 staffers including 9,000 doctors that needed proper strategy. The draft health policy would also take care of strengthening the basic health units, which play important role in ensuring primary care to the people.

The province has 5,464 basic health units and each unit can cover approximately 1,000 people if the government posts doctors there.

Similarly, there are 675 rural health centres and each centre is enough to fulfil the primary health needs of 25,000 to 50,000 people. There 733 mother and child health centres in the province that can be fully utilised for the benefit of the patients.

The referral system holds key to streamline healthcare services because most patients from different districts visit tertiary care hospitals directly that hampers treatment of the chronically-ill patients.

The experts working on the health policy would also take into consideration measures to ensure availability of quality drugs at affordable prices and streamline the prescriptions to facilitate the patients.

Availability of essential medicines in primary and secondary care centres free of cost with effective drug control regulations along with putting brakes on unethical practices in the privately-run diagnostic and treatment outlets for the sake of the people would be made part of the policy.

There would be short, mid and long term goals along with plans to achieve them and put in place a programme to evaluate and monitor the policy from time to time.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2018