RAWALPINDI: President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday highlighted the importance of the provision of quality healthcare services and adequate educational facilities and observed that these two sectors were the most significant for taking the country on the path of progress and prosperity.
He was addressing the second roadshow titled “Investing in human capital through health initiatives,”. The roadshow was arranged by the Punjab Health Foundation to highlight its ambitious project of extending interest-free loans to the people associated with the medical profession which also aims at the creation of 100,000 jobs.
“The public sector cannot perform in the health sector alone,” he said while stressing on strengthening the private sector’s role in the provision of healthcare facilities.
He also noted that telemedicine services were also playing a key role in the health sector and said that the private sector should adopt these practices.
While expressing his satisfaction with on the return rate of the loans extended which stood around 97 per cent and appreciating the Punjab government’s roadshow initiative, he called upon medical practitioners to fully avail this opportunity as it would also add to the indirect creation of jobs.
“Pulling out the people from extreme poverty and unemployment, the greater need should be focused on health and education sectors, and referred to the Chinese initiative of taking out a huge chunk of its population out of the poverty trap in a decade,” he added.
He also lauded the health insurance cards project which would provide relief to the poor segments of the society.
“The society has been facing two conflicting issues regarding health, one portion of the population faces obesity while another segment faces malnutrition and stunted growth issues,” he said.
Saying that every person should be aware of basic health fitness and avoid unhealthy trends, the president appreciated levy of tax by the government on cigarettes and carbonated drinks to discourage the public from health hazards.
He further said that people should promote breastfeeding of newborns so that the coming generations are less likely to suffer from stunted growth.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of National Health, Regulations and Coordination Aamer Mehmood Kiani said that health had never been an area of priority for previous governments as it showed a meagre 9 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the past, but the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government was striving to change the situation.
He announced that the process for the issuance of health cards would take place by the end of January, benefitting around 15 million to 20 million of the population.
“The nursing sector faces a shortage as, by 2030, the country would require services of about 1 million nurses,” he said while announcing that the government was establishing a nursing university in Islamabad besides, the construction of three hospitals and revamping of Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) and restructuring of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC).
About the rise in medicines prices, the health minister said that it was the long-standing demand of the pharmaceutical companies who were under immense pressure due to the hike in the dollar’s price.
He maintained that the government was providing free of cost medicines to the patients in hospitals to provide relief in this regard.
Punjab Health Foundation Managing Director (MD) Dr Ajmal Bhatti and Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education (SH&ME) Secretary Saqib Zafar also addressed the ceremony. They said that 45 more associated sectors were also being facilitated with the loans. Applicants could apply for a loan of around Rs0.2 million to Rs3 million which could be returned back on easy installments.