LAHORE: The government has allocated Rs43 billion for the health sector in the 2016-17 budget.
Budget documents reveal that the funds will be spent on upgrading all district headquarters (DHQ) hospitals, establishment of 15 new tehsil headquarters hospitals, establishment of emergency services in several districts and starting a preventive programme for non-communicable diseases.
Last year, the Health Department had introduced Minimum Service Delivery Standards at all levels of healthcare. However, the initiative failed to have the desired results.
“In her budget speech, Finance Minister Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha said that the government will spend Rs5 billion for revamping all DHQ and THQ hospitals. Last year, they had allocated Rs2.5 billion for this purpose. However, the situation at hospitals is still abysmal,” said Dr Salman Kazmi, the Young Doctors’ Association general secretary.
This year, the government has also allocated Rs12.43 billion for 90 new primary healthcare schemes, including hepatitis control, maternal and neonatal healthcare and a TB control programme. According to the budget document, Rs400 million has been allocated for the Punjab Nutrition Programme.
“As many as 9.6 million children in the country face stunted growth. This allocation is insufficient for Punjab’s population,” Dr Farhan Gohar, a YDA office bearer, said.
The government has allocated Rs100 million for AIDS control programmes.
“Last year, 25,000 AIDS patients, including women and children, were registered in the province. More funds are needed for raising awareness about the deadly disease,” Dr Gohar said. The government has also allocated Rs1,000 million for strengthening of the Extended Programme on Immunisation.
“The province faces several health challenges, especially dengue and polio. The government is not investing enough in healthcare. They are just trying to fool the people with figures,” Dr Gohar said.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2016.