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October 23, 2020

Inter-ministerial council endorses UHC benefit package

Islamabad

October 23, 2020

Islamabad : Pakistan has earned the distinction of being the first country in the world to have used localized evidence on burden of disease and costing data to develop an essential package of health services.

The Universal Health Coverage (UHC) benefit package has been finalized by the Ministry of National Health Services, in partnership with the provincial and area Departments of Health and other partners.

In this context, the Inter-Ministerial Health and Population Council met here on Thursday to review and provide concurrence on the UHC benefit package. The meeting was attended by the health and population ministers, health secretaries and other relevant officials from all provinces.

Addressing the forum, the PM’s Special Advisor on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan expressed confidence that the milestone would help Pakistan to improve health outcomes and make speedy progress towards UHC. “We now have to move together towards the delivery of the Essential Package of Health Services to every citizen,” he stated.

In partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the Disease Control Priorities 3 Secretariat provided technical support to Pakistan through LSHTM, Radboud University, Health Planning, System Strengthening and Information Analysis Unit of the Ministry of Health, Aga Khan University, and Health Services Academy to assist the development of the package.

The provincial health ministers expressed their support for the package. Punjab’s Health Minister Dr. Yasmeen Rashid said, UHC being the outcome and driver of progress is at the centre of all efforts for developing the nation. “Prioritizing investments in essential health services will bear dividends that will help in taking the country and province forward,” she stated.

The Health Minister of Sindh Dr. Azra Pechuho said, health is a human right and quality essential health services should be available to everyone, every time, with a special focus on equity for the most vulnerable in society. The Health Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Dr. Taimoor Khan Jhagra, AJK Minister for Health Dr. Najeeb Naqi, and Parliamentary Secretary of Health in Balochistan Dr. Rubaba Buledi agreed that investments in provision of essential health services underpin the reforms that the healthcare system in Pakistan has been seeking.

Presenting the package, the Chair of the Steering Committee on UHC BP Dr. Sameen Siddiqui informed the audience that its implementation is the best solution for effective functioning of the health system in Pakistan and delivering UHC results.

Dr. Zafar Mirza, WHO Advisor on UHC, emphasized the need for significantly enhanced public sector investment—both at federal and provincial levels—on essential and primary healthcare services, “otherwise Pakistan’s health indicators will remain among the worst.”