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Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reform & Statistics Division Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar has said that the Government intends to continue enhancing health budget to achieve universal health coverage which is manifestation of its commitment to pursue pro-poor health approach and provide quality healthcare facilities to the people.
The Minister was talking to Director General, World Health Organization (WHO), Mr. Tedros Adhanom Ghabreyesus here at Islamabad on Tuesday. Secretary Planning Zafar Hasan, Dr. Chris Elias President Global Development Division Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and senior officials of the ministry were also present in the meeting.
The Minister appreciated WHO for being a supportive partner of Pakistan in improving its health sector. Talking about Emergency Plan for Polio Eradication worth US$ 986.3 million, the minister apprised that the Plan has been given provisional approval subject to devising a robust monitoring mechanism for its smooth implementation, commitment by the provinces to divert funds to this purpose so that the crippling disease is effectively eradicated from the country. The Plan is expected to be taken up again this week in CDWP meeting which will be then recommended to ECNEC.
Talking to Dr. Chris Elias, the Federal Minister said that Pakistan welcomes support from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for eradication of polio virus. He stated that the Foundation could look into the possibility of extending its support in chalking out a strategy for controlling communicable diseases in the country like TB, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B & C. He added that the consultative process should involve all stakeholders. ‘The Foundation could help us in evaluating why we have not been able to eliminate these diseases’, said the Minister.
About family planning, the minister said that it is at the heart of the Government’s focus to control the burgeoning population and appreciated he support of partners in this regard. The minister also stressed upon aligning technical support of WHO and other international development partners with government’s 12th five year plan (2018-23).
Secretary Planning Zafar Hasan said that stunting is an issue in Pakistan and it is an area which requires support and hoped that this aspect will be given priority in the next plan of WHO and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
DG WHO said that all partners are committed to support Pakistan in achieving universal health coverage goals and to finish polio virus completely from the country. He appreciated that Pakistan’s plan for healthcare is aligned with SDGs. Dr. Chris apprised that Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a major supporter of national immunization program and expressed commitment to continue working closely in future. He also informed that a nutrition team will be soon visiting Pakistan to evaluate the situation for reducing stunting in Pakistan.