PTI Seminar on Health Policy Vision…!

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Moeed Pirzada | FB Blog |

PTI Seminar on Health Policy VisionTI Seminar on Health Policy Vision: I did attend the Seminar at Marriott, Islamabad. It is certainly a historic moment in Pakistan’s political history when a major political party, or any party for that purpose, for the first time has placed a Health Policy of any sort before public, media and its opponents for debate & dissection. I hope and I expect that this first move will encourage or force other major parties like PPP & Allies, PMLN and MQM to come forward with their own Health Policy Agendas… if that happened and lead to an inter-party debate on Health Policy then we will start to enter the second half of 20th Century at least… Event was very well attended with large Marquee Hall brimming with civil society and media; I counted 24 TV cameras in a row behind the audience and dozens of reporters beaming around; but will this make a difference? lets address this question…

I have a hard copy with me, and I am sure all of you can access the soft copy at PTI website. This is a well thought out document that begins by analyzing Pakistan’s current Health challenges with widespread malnutrition and communicable diseases, high infant & maternal mortality rates, expanding population and poor sanitation standards all compounded by a Health system that suffers from malfunction and bad governance at all levels and is basically geared to serve elite at the expense of teeming millions…for instance PTI claims that rich Pakistanis each year spend a gigantic amount of money abroad for treatment, bigger than all health budgets of Pakistan; how have they found it out? I am not sure but this is their claim…

PTI has outlined a Five Point Agenda: 1): Paradigm Shift towards Preventive Healthcare through action and Awareness; 2)- Complete Decentralization and De-politicization of Health governance; 3)- Prioritize Primary Health Care with focus on Mother & Child Care & School Health Care; 4)- Develop a reliable & Integrated Health Information System for evidence based planning and decision making; 5)- Increase Public Health Funding from 0.8% to 2.6% of GDP ie from Rs. 165 billion today to Rs. 1260 billion in Year 5.

Policy is sound; has a huge input from doctors and other health professionals of Pakistan Medical Association (PMA); has been lead by Jehangir Tareen and since I am a medical doctor to begin with, I can see a very rational and pragmatic professional approach; however it is basically goals and aspirations or desires developed from the input of medical profession; such knowledge has always been available to the provincial governments and we need to compare it with the on-ground challenges faced by governments for instance Punjab where Shahbaz Sharif has worked hard over the last 4 years to improve things; we need to know what actually fails the delivery. PTI is right in declaring that the main challenge is to improve the Health sector governance, however how PTI will be able to do it, is far from clear…? I asked Imran that when he says that we will raise Health spending from 0.8% to 2.6% of GDP, how will he do it? because in west political parties come up with precise sector wise analysis of the economy and budget allocations and then explain that how they will mobilize funds (from say Defense or say boost exports etc…) he asked Asad Omar to explain, who argued that they will save 5% by cutting losses in public utilities, boost exports and some other things; I am hopeful that PTI will give us more details, because the devil lies in details; once we start debating numbers then other parties will need to jump in; politics will start to move to the real issues; at the moment it’s is easy to say that we will do this for Health and that for Education and such and such for Environment and Energy but how will you do it is the real question and debate…?

Nevertheless it is a big step in Pakistani politics; and I am hopeful that PPP and PMLN will follow suit by coming up with their own health Policies….Amen! Many other members of this page like Dr. Salman Younas for instance were present there; he and others should share their experiences….Welcome to a New Pakistan!

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