–Finance minister expresses complete confidence in Dr Sania Nishtar’s credentials to transform BISP into a modern, dynamic and impartial social protection organisation
ISLAMABAD: Dr Sania Nishtar, Pakistan’s internationally acclaimed global health expert, has accepted the government’s invitation to chair the board of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).
Dr Nishtar is a well-respected apolitical professional, civil society leader and former cabinet minister. She is also a widely published scholar in the field of public healthcare systems and reform.
According to a notification issued by the finance ministry, poverty alleviation and provision of social protection to marginalised groups, especially in the less developed areas of the country, is amongst the highest priorities of the government. Dr Nishtar’s appointment, in fact, reflects the government’s commitment to achieve this policy objective by depoliticising BISP and providing it professional leadership, it added.
“BISP has recently outlined its plans for a comprehensive social protection strategy aimed at protecting the poorest of the poor from economic shocks. Under Dr Nishtar’s stewardship, BISP is expected to further deepen its interventions and also make them more transparent through innovative targeting approaches for the most disadvantaged segments of society,” the notification stated.
Finance Minister Asad Umar has expressed complete confidence in Dr Sania Nishtar’s credentials and her ability to transform BISP into a modern, dynamic and impartial social protection organization capable of eliminating dependency and permanently lifting people out of poverty.
It is pertinent to mention that Dr Sania Nishtar is an internationally acclaimed Pakistani physician and public health expert. She currently co-chairs WHO’s High-Level Commission on Non-communicable Diseases along with the presidents of Uruguay, Finland and Sri-Lanka. She also chairs the US National Academy of Sciences initiative on the Quality of Healthcare in low and middle-income countries and also chairs the United Nations International Institute for Global Health’s Advisory Committee. She is a member of the International Advisory Board on Global Health of the Federal Government of Germany and the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the future of healthcare.
Dr Sania Nishtar is the founder and president of the NGO Heartfile in Pakistan and the founder of Heartfile Health Financing for which she received the global innovation award. She has previously served as a caretaker federal minister in the interim government of 2013. In 2017, she was Pakistan’s nominee for director general of the World Health Organization and was in the final shortlist of three.
Earlier, she was also founding chair of the UN Secretary General’s Independent Accountability Panel for Women’s and Children’s Health and chaired WHO’s commission on ending childhood obesity.
Dr Sania Nishtar graduated from Khyber Medical University as the best graduate in 1986, with 16 gold medals setting a college record which remains unbroken. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and took a PhD at Kings College London.