RAWALPINDI: Federal Minister for National Health Services Aamer Mehmood Kiani here on Sunday defended the recent increase in medicine prices and linked it with the devaluation of the rupee against the dollar.
“We will reduce the drug prices when the value of the dollar drops against the rupee. As medicines are imported, the devaluation of the rupee necessitated the increase in the prices,” he told media persons after visiting the Holy Family Hospital (HFH).
The minister said pharmaceutical companies had demanded an increase of 30pc in the drug prices but the government agreed only to 15pc.
Says prices will be reduced when value of dollar drops against the rupee
The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) on Jan 11 announced up to 15pc increase in the prices of various medicines. The surge drew criticism from the citizens and the opposition parties who demanded the government withdraw the decision as it would create problems for the people.
The minister said healthcare was ignored in the past but the PTI government was giving special attention to the sector at the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan. He said the prime minister wanted to provide better healthcare facilities to the citizens in all government hospitals.
The minister said more than 20 million health cards would be issued by the end of this month.
“These health cards will enable the citizens to receive medical treatment both at the government and private hospitals,” he said, adding the financial package under the health cards had also been doubled.
The government is working to establish three new hospitals and a nursing university in Islamabad to lessen the patient load on the existing hospitals.
He said after the visit of the prime minister to the HFH, 100 new beds were being added to its mother and child department.
He said the prime minister expressed his concerns after seeing two or three expecting mothers sharing a single bed in the hospital.
“The prime minister assigned me the task to improve the facilities in the hospital so patients could get better healthcare facilities without any hurdle,” he said.
“More than three million people get medical care annually at the HFH and it will be made a state-of-the-art hospital.”
He said for patient attendants, a shelter home was being constructed and such a facility would also be provided at Benazir Bhutto Hospital and District Headquarters Hospital.
The minister said incubators, baby carts, warmers and other facilities were also being provided to the hospital.
“The Punjab government has been asked to ensure supply of medicines to the government hospitals,” he said.
The government will also recruit more staff to overcome the shortage in the hospitals. He said 150 employees would be recruited to improve the sanitation facilities at the HFH soon. He said new washrooms would also be constructed in the hospital.
The minister said he was monitoring the work at the hospital and the residents would seen the change within a week. He said special counters had been established at the hospital to resolve complaints of the patients.
Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019