LAHORE: The Punjab government would provide financial and technical assistance for the development of health sector in Gilgit-Baltistan, Adviser to Chief Minister on Health Khwaja Salman Rafique said on Sunday.

He was speaking to a delegation led by Gilgit-Baltistan Senior Minister Haji Akbar Tabani.

Rafique said that on the direction of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, officers from the Health Department had already visited Gilgit-Baltistan to review its requirements related to healthcare. He said that a conference on health reforms in Gilgit-Baltistan should be arranged in Islamabad next month. He assured the delegation that officers from the Punjab Health Department would participate in the conference and chalk out a roadmap for Gilgit-Baltistan.

Health Secretary Jawad Rafique Malik stressed the need for evolving a master plan for the health sector of Gilgit-Baltistan. He said the Health Department would cooperate with the Gilgit-Baltistan government in the construction and rehabilitation of hospital buildings.

Tabani apprised the adviser of the poor state of hospitals and non-availability of trained manpower in his province. He said that there was an acute shortage of health facilities in Gilgit-Baltistan. There is no medical college in the area, he said.

“Similarly, there is no institution for training paramedics. Patients in serious condition have to be taken to Rawalpindi and Islamabad for treatment,” Tabani said.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 21st,  2015.