Health sector needs a major boost

IN a much needed extension of the free of cost treatment facility to the poor, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, on Monday, launched National Health Programme (NHP) in four districts of Balochistan, which would benefit about seventy-six thousand families. Under-privileged people of Quetta, Kech, Loralai and Lasbela will benefit from the Government-funded programme.
Given the poor state of health cover, the programme should have been initiated in all areas of the country to ensure that no poor family is left at the mercy of circumstances as far as treatment of major diseases is concerned. However, as the programme was conceptualised and funded by the Federal Government, the Provinces other than the Punjab did not show the required level of cooperation to make it meaningful for unlucky segments of their population merely because of political considerations. Collaboration of the Provinces was a must in view of the fact that health sector stands devolved to the Provinces under 18th Constitutional amendment but this should in no way be a hurdle in reaching out to the deserving people for provision of medical facilities to them. Balochistan is a backward Province and therefore, launching of the programme in its four districts is a welcome beginning and hopefully it would be expanded further to include other areas of the Province as well. We would also expect PPP Government in Sindh and that of PTI in KP to shun obstructionist attitude and help Federal Government provide medical facilities to their people as well. The programme has immense relevance to the poor as everyone knows the state of affairs in the public sector where either health facilities are lacking or the quality of the service is poor because of mismanagement and absence of a comprehensive monitoring and vigilance mechanism. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the masses have been left to the mercy of the private sector, which, no doubt, has a pivotal role in improving access and quality of the health cover, but most of the private institutions are being run merely on commercial consideration and they are just fleecing the general public. Government employees enjoy health facilities including treatment during hospitalisation and it is appreciable that the Prime Minister has enlisted quality health institutions under the NHP to provide treatment facilities to the families registered under the programme. However, the criteria presently applied for registration (inclusion of name in BISP beneficiaries, which itself is deficient) is not realistic and highly flawed and therefore, needs to be reviewed on priority basis.

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