Islamabad: Pakistan’s top economic body has approved the largest ever healthcare project by the federal government worth Rs70 billion (US$436m).
The project approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) includes Rs45 billion for new healthcare facilities, Rs7 billion for national health surveillance, Rs13 billion water sanitation, hygiene as well as interventions in less developed areas, said Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Asad Umar.
Besides the healthcare project, the economic body also approved several projects regarding infrastructural and human development, education and water resources worth around Rs209 billion.
Focus on heath amid pandemic
Pakistan is investing in stronger health systems after the coronavirus pandemic unveiled the shortcomings of the country’s health system. The government’s focus is on strengthening the health system and engaging communities to protect people from future health threats. Pakistan government has also allocated $250 million initial funds for the purchase of the COVID-19 vaccine and has announced to provide coronavirus vaccines free of charge to its citizens.
Universal health coverage
Prime Minister Imran Khan has vowed to improve healthcare spending and also announced universal health coverage for all citizens for the first time in Pakistan. The programme, first initiated in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in 2020, would soon be extended to other provinces. Under the universal health insurance programme, each family would be entitled to medical treatment of up to Rs1 million ($6,000) a year at over 250 government and private hospitals across Pakistan.
“The development of the Universal Health Coverage benefit Package of Pakistan and its implementation will become the cornerstone of health reforms across Pakistan” believes PM’s Special Assistant on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan.