Minister of State for National Health Services and Regulations Saira Afzal Tarar Thursday said the government improved its immunization programme and streamlined the affairs of councils working under the health ministry. Speaking at a press conference here, she said due to coordinated efforts of the federal and provincial governments the cases of polio were reduced from 360 to only two. She said when she took charge of the health ministry, scandals were rife and mismanagement marred performance of the health institutions. She told that the federal health budget was increased by 77 percent from Rs 32 billion to Rs 54.4 billion. The government undertook the restructuring of Extended Programme of Immunization (EPI) and brought improvement in procurement and storage of vaccines. Vaccine coverage for nine diseases increased by 20 percent, she added. The federal government distributed 7.5 million doses of vaccines among the provinces every year, she said adding the ministry set up a state-of-the-art storage facility to control temperature of the vaccines.
GAVI, the global vaccine alliance has appreciated improvement in vaccination drive of Pakistan, the minister informed. The Rs 16 million was allocated for provision of refrigeration facilities in provinces, the minister added. Through successful negotiations with World Bank, the government was able to secure $180 million for sustainability of Pakistan’s immunization programme for mothers and children, the minister added.
She said the ministry saved Rs 1.8 billion in buying of vaccines by inviting UNICEF and more pharmaceutical companies for a transparent bidding.
Vaccines for ROTA and pneumonia and intravenous vaccine for polio were added to the EPI programme. Another significant achievement of the government was streamlining the affairs of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), and councils of Tibb, pharmacy and nursing, Saira mentioned.
The minister said free and fair elections for board of PMDC was held and PMDC checked the mushroom growth of medical colleges. The heads of councils were appointed on merit and a transparent list was posted on the website after including names of all of the registered homeopaths for holding of a fair election of Tibb Council. She said a PhD nurse was appointed as President Nursing Council for the first time and online and same day registration of nurses was ensured. Saira said at present Pakistan has two important posts in international health bodies including World Health Organization and GAVI. Pakistan chairs the executive board of WHO and has a seat on the board of GAVI, she added.