PESHAWAR: The health department is planning to execute a strategy to ensure access of all people to minimum essential health services and achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by year 2030.

The federal government started work on the development of Universal Health Coverage Benefit Package (UHC-BP) at national level in July 2019 and Inter-Ministerial Health and Population Council endorsed it in October 2020.

Officials told this scribe that all the provinces were bound to take measures in that regard under the supervision of federal government, which had already developed a list of the desired interventions to be adopted by health and population departments of all the provinces.

“The federal government has asked the provinces to adopt interventions defined in the list in accordance with their healthcare scenarios. Every province has its own health issues according to which they would take steps,” they said.

Strategy planned to provide essential health services to entire population

According to them, health has a central place in the SDG 3 “ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages”, underpinned by 13 targets that cover a wide spectrum of WHO’s work. They said that health department was working in coordination with federal government to follow the WHO’s guidelines.

A secretariat has been established at Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination to provide technical support to the provinces to implement the SDG in line with the national commitment.

Last week, a two-day workshop held at Khyber Medical University Peshawar was informed that UHC-BP was based on the principle that all individuals and communities had equitable access to their needed healthcare in good quality and without suffering financial hardship.

Officials said that province had initiated work for adaptation of UHC to come up with final document for the approval by the government within a month.

They said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had an edge over other provinces as UHC had already been implemented in the shape of Sehat Sahulat Programme under which all 6.7 million families of the province were entitled to free health services.

The programme covers secondary and tertiary care services and authorities have to chalk out the strategy to cover the population visiting the first level health facilities.

According to the strategy, efforts would be made to ensure provision of primary health services to people as well as steps would be taken for population control in the province.

The federal government wants implementation of UHC-BP in two districts of each province and during the next two years in the first phase of the enforcement of the strategy. In the second phase, it would be enforced in six districts of each province.

Officials said that adaptation of UHC-BP was a critical step for rolling out across the provinces.

There are variations across the provinces in terms of health systems dynamics, situation with regards to the prioritised interventions at the national level and the service delivery issues.

“We need to develop strategy for primary healthcare, sustainable financing for health, community and civil society engagement, determinants of health, innovative programming in fragile and vulnerable settings and for disease outbreak responses, research and development, innovation and access and data and digital health,” they said.

Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2021

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