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Friday June 14, 2024

Senate panel told...: Govt gave only 48pc funds to run hospitals, other institutions in capital

It was revealed by Special Secretary Health Syed Waqar-ul-Hasan to Senate Standing Committee on Health

By M Waqar Bhatti
December 01, 2023
The Senate while in a session. — Senate of Pakistan website/File
The Senate while in a session. — Senate of Pakistan website/File

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has doled out only Rs23 billion to the health ministry against its demand of Rs48 billion to run the affairs of ministry as well as provision of health facilities at public hospitals in the capital.

It was revealed by Special Secretary Health Syed Waqar-ul-Hasan to the Senate Standing Committee on Health on Thursday. “Federal health ministry received Rs25 billion less than its requirement, including Rs11 billion shortfall to run the healthcare facilities in the capital, so the major chunk of the budget could only be spent on payment of salaries and keeping the health facilities functional,” he told the Senate panel.

Responding to the query about the unavailability of medicines at dispensaries and other healthcare facilities, he said the priority of the legislators was to provide funds for roads and bridges instead of healthcare. “When insufficient funds are allocated for healthcare, how can you expect us to provide facilities at the hospitals,” Syed Waqar-ul-Hasan said and urged the senators to raise the issue of allocation for health in parliament. Senator Dilawar Khan assured him that the issue would be raised in the parliament.

Earlier, the standing committee meeting under the chair of Senator Humayun Mohmand discussed a private member bill titled “The Pakistan Emergency Treatment Coverage Programme Bill, 2023,” introduced by Senator Sania Nishter to get free emergency healthcare in hospitals ensuring access to immediate medical assistance for safeguarding public health and safety. The bill was deferred for further consideration in collaboration with the ministry.

Another private member bill titled “The Injured Persons (Medical Aid) (Amendment) Bill, 2023,” introduced by Senator Prof. Mehar Taj Roghani, was also deferred. The committee deliberated extensively and decided to reconvene in a fortnight, inviting representatives from the law department, department of interior to discuss emergency medical treatment to injured persons without delay on a priority basis, without adhering to medico-legal formalities or demanding payment prior to administering emergency medical treatment. The chairman Senate panel deferred the matter for further consideration, anticipating the bill’s passage in the next sitting.

The Senate panel also discussed a private member bill titled “The Islamabad Capital Territory Protection of Breast-Feeding and Child Nutrition Bill, 2023.”

The point of Public Importance regarding “The Alarming numbers of Maternal and Neonatal Mortality Rate in the Country,” raised by Senator Mehr Taj Roghani was also discussed in the meeting.

She said that the questions mainly revolved around funding sources and expenditure proportions dedicated to maternal, neonatal and child health.The advisor on Nutrition, Dr Tausif, briefed the committee that as per National Health Accounts (NHA) 19-20, total health expenditure in Pakistan in the fiscal year 2019-20 was estimated at Rs1,466 billion.