• Duty-free import of medical equipment on the cards
• Imran reaffirms pledge to expeditiously complete CPEC projects
• Fawad reappointed as information minister
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said his government’s flagship Sehat Card Scheme would bring about a revolution in the health sector besides providing universal health coverage to people, particularly the poor and the needy.
“The universal health coverage would … protect the poor against economic fallout of contracting a disease,” he said while addressing the launching ceremony of online services of the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC).
The prime minister said even developed states did not provide full healthcare coverage to their citizens but Pakistan was moving towards full universal health coverage despite its limited resources.
Two provinces had taken a decision in this regard, he said, adding that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had provided health cover to all its people while Punjab would be doing so by the end of the current year.
He said now the private sector would establish hospitals in small towns and villages. Earlier, the private sector was not going to remote areas as people living there lacked buying power but now they would have the health cards to get medical treatment, he added.
Prime Minister Khan said poor families did not have protection against disease and they suffered further whenever affected by a serious illness. “The health card would provide protection to 50 per cent of the country’s population against disease,” he added.
He said the private sector would be given incentives to import duty-free medical equipment. The government would sell the land of the Evacuee Trust Property Board on concessional rates to make it easy for the private sector to construct hospitals, he added.
The prime minister said the role of the PMC would increase as the number of medical colleges would go up in future. He appreciated the PMC for launching its online system for registration of medical colleges and students, and for addressing public complaints.
He congratulated the PMC “because today it took a big step for the health sector as the introduction of technology will introduce transparency and meritocracy”.
Mr Khan said transparency and meritocracy would take Pakistan forward in the 21st century. The PMC as a regulator had presented itself before the public and medical students for review, he added.
Unfortunately, he said, the performance of medical colleges and quality of health professionals had gone down in the past as the regulator was not working properly.
“There was a time when the country’s medical colleges and doctors had acceptability in the world, but later the regulator became negligent and the standards went down,” he said. It was very important for the regulator to set standards for doctors and medical colleges so that no one could take chances on the lives of patients, he added.
He assured the PMC of the government’s support to ensure its success as it would help the health sector in maintaining standards.
Special Assistant to the PM on Health Dr Faisal Sultan spoke about the reforms in the health sector. “Modernisation of the PMC is crucial for improving healthcare delivery in Pakistan,” he said. “The online system will help our skilled healthcare cadre save precious time in the processing of their licensing and registration applications.”
PMC President Dr Arshad Taqi, while sharing his thoughts, said, “The introduction of technology will increase the efficiency of our systems and decrease the possibility of human error.”
PM meets Chinese envoy
Prime Minister Khan met Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong and discussed China’s experience of poverty alleviation and tackling Covid-19 as well as bilateral relations.
Mr Khan congratulated Chinese leadership on successfully achieving the momentous goal of eradicating extreme poverty from their country and said Pakistan was keen to learn from China’s experience of poverty alleviation as well as development.
The prime minister highlighted that Pakistan was currently facing third wave of Covid-19 and the government was taking necessary measures to combat it and had devised an elaborate plan of vaccination across the country.
He underscored the transformational nature of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to expeditiously complete CPEC projects.
“People of Pakistan are look forward to welcoming President Xi Jinping to the country at his earliest convenience,” he said.
Ambassador Rong conveyed cordial greetings of President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang and reaffirmed the resolve to further strengthen Pakistan-China ties. The ambassador said China would do its utmost to help Pakistan deal with the surge of Covid-19, including expeditious provision of vaccines.
He reiterated invitation to the Prime Minister Khan to visit China.
Fawad reappointed as information minister
After uncertainty that persisted for last few days regarding new information minister, Prime Minister Khan has finally given the slot to Fawad Chaudhry for the second time.
“Yes, I have been appointed information minister but so far I have not received the official notification,” Mr Chaudhry told Dawn when contacted.
He said so far he would look after the information ministry as an additional charge while retaining his portfolio of science and technology.
Replying to a query regarding more changes expected in the federal cabinet, he said some more changes would take place in a couple of days.
Senator Faisal Javed Khan also confirmed that Mr Chaudhry had been given the portfolio of information for the second time.
In a tweet, Mr Khan congratulated Mr Chaudhry for “getting reappointed as Federal Minister for Information”. “Wish you all the best. Lots of prayers,” he added.
Mr Chaudhry has replaced Shibli Faraz, who was appointed as information minister in April last year.
Mr Chaudhry had earlier been appointed as information minister but removed in April 2019, less than a year into the PTI government, and given the portfolio of science and technology.
Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2021