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Social Health Protection in Pakistan: Are We Moving Towards Achieving the Universal Health Coverage. (Round Table Meeting of Health & Population Think Tank)

Social Health Protection in Pakistan: Are We Moving Towards Achieving the Universal Health Coverage.

Round Table Meeting of Health & Population Think Tank (16th May 2017 at Health Services Academy, Islamabad)

After a successful round table on Prospects of indigenous Vaccines production in Pakistan, Health & Population Think Tank organized second round table on Social Health Protection in Pakistan. Honorable Minister for State MoNHSR&C Ms Saira Afzal Tarar presided the inaugural session of the meeting. She introduced the Health & Population Think Tank established and notified by the MoNHSR&C as an independent entity to function as an advisory arm of the Health Planning, System Strengthening & Information Analysis Unit. She shared with the participants that Prime Minister’s National Health Program is a milestone towards social welfare reforms; ensuring that the identified under-privileged citizens across the country get access to their entitled medical health care in a swift and dignified manner without any financial obligations. She reiterated that the ministry aspires to achieve the universal health coverage in line with our government’s vision 2025, and also to the SDGs commitments. Government is committed to increase the health budget.

Secretary Health MoNHSR&C Mr Ayub Sheikh underlined the fact that the Government of Pakistan is taking all possible measures to address the issue of social health protection by expanding the national health program to various priority districts across the country. Yet we feel that there is a lot to be done and applied to actually provide safety net to each and every poor of the country so that the household does not suffer from catastrophic shocks of health expenditure.

DG Health Dr. Assad Hafeez alluded to the round table meeting objectives i.e. to discuss social health protection (SHP) strategies globally and regionally and learn about the best practices; to take stock of the local models of SHP currently implemented; and to assist and guide the GoP (federal and provincial) to steer the SHP models towards achieving universal health coverage, one of the targets of SDGs. He referred to the government’s pledges on Universal Health coverage in Vision 2025 and the National health Vision 2016-2025.

Dr. Awad Mataria Health Financing Specialist from WHO EMRO joined on the skype and shared some useful regional experiences and modalities on social health protection. Dr. Eduardo Banzon Health Specialist Asian Development Bank (former CEO PhilHealth) also joined on skype from Philippines and alluded to some of the key components of Philippines’ universal health insurance program. Dr. Zafar Mirza Director Health Systems Development WHO EMRO also participated on skype discussion and shared his views on Pakistan’s initiatives to ensure safety nets to the poor for protecting them from health shocks.

Prime Minister National Health Program, KP Sehat Sahulat Program and Punjab Health Insurance Management Company presented their respective packages and road maps for future expansions.

Dr. Babar Shaikh Technical Lead Health & Population Think Tank moderated the last session with questions on cost, quality of care, inclusiveness, and sustainability of social protection initiatives for health in Pakistan.

Representatives from the federal government, provincial departments, development partners, insurance companies, NGOs, academia, and research organization attended the meeting. The deliberations will be compiled to develop a policy brief for the MoNHSR&C.

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