The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Health Department has requested Chief Minister Amir Khan Hoti to provide Rs5 billion to integrate four projects into regular programmes. The department claims funds provided by international donors are insufficient.
The Department for International Development (DFID), a UK-based donor agency, and Australian Aid have provided 40 million pounds and 40 million Australian dollars to the provincial health department respectively to help strengthen the health care delivery system at grass root levels.
The projects that need to be integrated into regular programmes include Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), Nutrition, Mother and Neonatal Child Health (MNCH) and Lady Health Workers (LHWs). A total budget of Rs19 billion is required for this purpose and the department has sent a summary to the chief minister requesting Rs5 billion.
“At present, LHWs only have access to 57% of the population in K-P; we aim to reach 80%. For this, we need to hire more female workers,” Health Sector Reforms Unit Coordinator Dr Shahid Younas told The Express Tribune. A total of 13,200 LHWs are working in the province, 3,500 more are needed, he added.
Dr Younas explained the basic purpose of these projects was to provide quality health care services in Basic Health Units and Rural Health Units so that people living in far flung areas do not have to travel to major hospitals in the districts.
“Of the total allocated fund, 80% will be spent on service delivery while a considerable amount will be allocated to create awareness among people, because illiteracy leads to major diseases in our province,” said Dr Younas.
He claimed all stakeholders including religious leaders and teachers would be involved in the awareness programmes so that preventable diseases can be fought through education.
Patients suffering from diseases like malaria, acute respiratory infections, diarrhoea, tuberculosis and other minor ailments will be able to get treatment at their doorsteps if the programmes are successful, he added.
In response to a question, Dr Younas maintained lack of funds was the main reason projects were delayed. He said donors want the process completed as soon as possible because they are giving the money and want to see tangible results.
The coordinator denied any money will be spent on erecting a new building for the department, saying the entire amount will be spent on buying medicines, equipment for basic tests and strengthening district health offices.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2013.