LAHORE: The Punjab health department will showcase its mega initiatives such as health cards and plans to hire doctors and nurses, look after malnourished children and women, revamp emergencies and grant autonomy to medical teaching institutions in its 100-day agenda and beyond.
It will also explain targets for the current financial year and mid and long-term initiatives.
In line with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Punjab Specialized Healthcare and Medical Education Department is set to present health cards’ initiative which is meant to mitigate the suffering of millions of underprivileged individuals by empowering them to seek decent healthcare services.
“The access to universal health coverage through the health card will go a long way in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with regard to decrease in mother mortality rate (MMR) and infant mortality rate (IMR) by 2030 as well as alleviating poverty and nourishing the malnourished,” says health minister Dr Yasmin Rashid.
The department plans to reach out and help 20.797 million individuals in 26 districts of the province by the end of this financial year. For now, the health department has decided to issue health cards by the end of this month to vulnerable population in four south Punjab districts – D.G. Khan, Multan, Muzaffargarh and Rajanpur.
The federal health ministry is looking for a centralised procurement of Insurance Service Provider at the federal level and in the meantime the Punjab government has agreed to pay the total premium of health cards in the 26 selected districts. The health cards in 10 districts have already been given by the previous PML-N government.
The health minister says the department has surveyed around 70 million women and children across the province and identified 350,000 malnourished children including 88,000 acute malnourished children. Similarly, 150,000 women have been identified as malnourished.
Since there has been serious deficiency of health professionals in the public hospitals, the minister says 10,000 or so doctors and nurses including 6,366 medical officers recommended by the Punjab Public Service Commission have been hired and are being posted in hospitals. By the end of this fiscal year, the department expects availability of 555 teaching cadre doctors through departmental and provincial selection boards as well as 961 teachers through the PPSC.
Dr Rashid says the department has requisitioned recruitment of 583 pharmacists through the PPSC, while 14,000 more officials would be recruited through the National Testing Service.
The health department has set a target of revamping hospitals’ emergencies with existing resources besides completing 10 district and tehsil headquarters hospitals in Okara, Nankana Sahib, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Hafizabad, Narowal, Jhelum, Kamoki and Daska. At the tertiary healthcare level, the department plans revamping of 13 specialised healthcare emergencies in teaching hospitals including four in Lahore, incorporating six interventions, human resources, infrastructural upgradation, medical equipment upgradation, introduction of IT systems and outsourcing of services.
At the policy level, the Punjab government plans to develop a health policy aligned with the National Vision 2025. The department will hold extensive consultations and compile concrete recommendations by stakeholders and finally translate it into a policy document for the Punjab Health Sector Strategy. Later, this strategy will be translated into Action Plan for Health Department, Punjab. Governance and accountability mechanism in the form of a dashboard will be established by the PSPU.
Under the Health Reform Bill, the department will formulate a strategy and legislate to give autonomy to the medical institutions. This initiative will lead to autonomy for the medical teaching institutions.
In order to increase outreach in peripheral areas, the department has plans to construct 200-bed four new mother and child hospitals in Attock, Mianwali, Layyah and Bahawalnagar at an estimated cost of Rs4 billion.
The Punjab Health Foundation has held road shows in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan and Faisalabad to better disseminate new health entrepreneur initiatives to the health professionals. With Rs1.5 billion budget, the foundation has plans to offer Rs2 million to Rs2.5 million interest-free loan to entrepreneurs in 45 identified areas. This initiative is expected to create 100,000 new jobs.
“The road show attracted three times more applications for the interest-free loan,” says Dr Rashid.
The health department will also take a proposal to the Punjab cabinet to bring about uniformity in the rates of 300 diagnostic tests across the province. It will continue vaccination against measles and polio till the eradication of diseases. During the first 100 days, around 20 million children have been vaccinated.
The department has already launched emergency line service for complaints about cases in emergency units and operation theatres. In October alone, the department’s Complaint Management System received 1,639 complaints and the resolution rate stood at 94 per cent.