Islamabad, June 20, 2019 (PPI-OT): Meeting of Inter-Ministerial Health Population Council of Pakistan was held on 20th June 2019 in the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination. The meeting was chaired by the State Minister, Dr. Zafar Mirza. The meeting was attended by the Health and Population Ministers of Provinces/Federal Areas. Dr. Zafar Mirza welcomed all the participants and emphasized on the need to rejuvenate this forum in line with the mandate given under the 18thamendment in the constitution.
He further stressed that there is the need to work together on the health and population issues for prevention and control of disease and better health service delivery. Later addressing a press conference Dr. Zafar Mirza Health Minister shared that All the Ministers appreciated the gesture and suggested that this forum can be utilized to share good practices and health development partner support. Meetings of the council should be hosted on the rotational basis among the provinces.
Health Minister Punjab Dr. Yasmeen Rashid was also present in the press conference and addressed the media. The meeting discussed key health issues including strategies to enhance immunization coverage under EPI and agreed to set targets to achieve Universal Child Immunization. It was agreed to strengthen the Lady Health Workers Program with improvement in their working conditions and allocation of additional resources to the program. It was brought to the notice of the council that huge funding gap exists in TB Program.
All provincial ministers were urged to enhance domestic funding and address case detection and better management of drug resistant TB. The results of National Nutrition Survey were shared with a commitment to develop a consensus National Action Plan for addressing the stunting issue and convening of a high level nutrition conference was agreed upon. Nursing and midwifery sectors were discussed in particular.
Areas for strengthening were deliberated upon and PC-1 was shared with all the provinces with comprehensive plan for improving the quality and numbers of nurses and midwives in Pakistan. The Minister explained the efforts been put in by the government for ensuring Universal Health Coverage through development of Essential Health Services Package by incorporating global best practices contained in DCP-3. A review of prevalence of essential heath interventions and future priorities was shared with the provincial leadership. It was also decided that in next meeting all the provinces will bring their financial statements along with issues and lessons to be shared with each other as a learning exercise for maximum utilization of available funds.
The scope and purview of the council was enhanced and it was agreed to hold regular quarterly meetings. A working paper will be developed on the LHW Program after the evaluation report to maximize the coverage and functionality of the program. The delegation of participating health Ministers later called on Prime Minister Imran Khan to apprise him of the deliberations and seek his support for the health sector in prioritized areas. The Prime Minister agreed in principle to provide support to LHW program, on development of a health package for Balochistan and supporting construction of 250 bed hospitals in Gilgit – Baltistan. Next meeting of the council will take place in the third week of September in Quetta, Balochistan.
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