Pre-Election Dialogue on Public Health Policy held with Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), 13 November 2012, Islamabad

Dr. Pirzada moderated a panel discussion, “Public Health” organized by Agha Khan University (AKU) at Marriott Hotel Karachi on 11th January, 2013. It was funded by USAID. Panelist included: Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho, PPP, Begum Shehnaz Wazir Ali, PPP, Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta, AKU, Dr. Shehla Zaidi, Assistant Prof. AKU, Dr. Nabeela Ali, JSI, Mohammed Ayub, Senior Chief of Nutrition Section of Planning and Development Division, Dr. Farid Midhet, Qasim University of Medicine, KSA, Dr. Zeba Sattar, Country Director of Population Council, Katherine Crawford, Director Health, USAID, Desmond Whyms, DFID, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Heartfile and Rob Hughes, DFID. In this roundtable with the PPP –  led by Dr. Azra Pechuho (Member Parliament and Member PPP Manifesto Committee & Chairperson President’s Polio Oversight Committee) and Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali along with other members of PPP.  JSI and its international partners were led by Dr. Nabeela Ali (Chief of Party JSI/TAUH).  Dr. Nabeela argued that while we are doing all the right things in Pakistan but it seems that we are not doing them right. She feared that something is definitely wrong in our approaches or strategy; with the help of several color coded slides she showed that how incidence of infant mortality has considerably reduced across the whole region of South Asia since 1990 except in Pakistan which paints a dismal picture along with Afghanistan and stands even today more or less where it was in 1990. She then pointed out that out of $22 spent on health per capita in Pakistan only $8 is spent by the governments and the rest of $14 represent out of pocket expenditures by families facing a health crisis.  Dr. Azra Pechuho spoke and agreed to the overall health sector scenario presented by Dr. Nabeela. She however added that the biggest challenge her party and government recognizes relates to the lack of institutional birth facility in Pakistan. And their challenge is to increase the availability and incidence of ante-natal check up across the country. She said that the problem is that they have tried various options including the private public partnerships but none has delivered the desired results. She lamented the low availability and quality of human resource skills and the lack of professionalism amongst even those who are attending the public sector health facilities.

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