PESHAWAR, April 18: The government will spend Rs13.7 billion on the development of health facilities in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) under the Sustainable Development Programme by 2015.

“Under the plan, a medical college and paramedical institute would be established in Fata,” said an official, adding that apart from the construction of new health facilities, the existing health units and hospitals would be strengthened.

The official said the government had allocated Rs558 million for the annual development programme 2006-7, which was nine per cent of the total annual budget of Fata. This amount would be spent on 75 on-going projects.

The projects include strengthening of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation, lady health workers, HIV/Aids, malaria and TB control programmes, mobile hospitals and the construction of new health units and renovation of hospitals.

The official said that authorities in Fata had no statistics on health indicators, leaving them with no option but to rely on assumptions to develop the new plans. Eighty-seven newborn babies die out of a total 1,000 births and 600 out of 100,000 mothers die of pregnancy-related complications annually, he said. People have limited access to health facilities since most of them are located in the main towns of Fata, leaving many living outside with little access to such facilities, he added.

A survey conducted in 2004 showed that there was one health facility in Fata within the radius of 50 kilometres. For a population of 3.5 million in Fata, there are 1,762 hospital’s beds, most of which are located in semi-urban areas, he said. As of 2006, a total of seven tribal units had six agency headquarter hospitals, four tehsil headquarter hospitals, 16 D-type hospitals, eight rural health centres, 168 basic health units, 454 community health centres and dispensaries. There is also an extreme shortage of medical staff, said the official, adding that Fata had a total of 66 specialist doctors, 435 medical officers, 48 female medical officers, 28 dental surgeons, 182 nurses, 280 lady health visitors, 453 medical technicians and 2,232 non-technical staff.

According to the plan, Rs5 million would be spent on establishing a health information and education system by 2015.

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