Health Services Academy, Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination and Health and Population Think Tank held an inter-national consultative meeting on “Economic Aspects of Covid-19 in Pakistan”.
The meeting invited international technical experts and high level Federal and Provincial Government officials to share evidence and highlight efforts to mitigate the negative impacts of Covid-19 on Pakistan’s economy.
There was detailed discussion on ways to improve public spending on health, explore alternative financing mechanisms to enhance revenue generating capacity, reprioritize health budgets and steps to revive the economy.
Federal Minister and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection, Dr Sania Nishtar highlighted Government response to Covid-19, bearing the fact that a large percentage of Pakistan’s population is below the poverty line that could be hard hit by the pandemic.
She elaborated how an immediate financial protection mechanism was developed for the very poor people and those working in the informal sector of Pakistan.
Dr. Shabnum Sarfraz, Member Social Sector & Devolution, Ministry of Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, highlighted inter-ministerial collaboration and a national action plan for COVID-19 along with a report on macroeconomic impact analysis. The Planning Ministry promptly established a coordination mechanism of foreign assistance to contain the impact of Covid-19.
Dr. Awad Mataria from the World Health Organization highlighted the need for transforming health financing mechanisms and need for different funding strategies to make money available for health in times of need.
Mr. Eazaz Aslam Dar, Additional Secretary Economic Affairs Division, discussed health budget allocation and expenditures and difficulties in the processes that may result in underutilization of services or lapses in funds due to lack of absorptive capacity.