PM calls upon bridging gap between Global South and Global North in health sector

Shehbaz says treatment for fatal diseases like cancer was too costly for poor population of Pakistan

APP April 28, 2024
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif speaks at a session “Redefining Global Health Agenda” of World Economic Forum’s special meeting on April 28, 2024. PHOTO: PID


While describing global inequality in the health sector as 'the foremost problem', Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday called for bridging the widening gap between the Global South and the Global North.

Expressing his views during a session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on global health, the prime minister stated that the Covid-19 pandemic had exposed significant gaps between the Global North and Global South regarding health facilities provision and vaccine distribution.

He highlighted that the issue of climate change had also fundamentally altered the landscape. Pakistan, he asserted, bore no responsibility for global emissions; however, in 2022, it experienced severe climate-induced floods, causing extensive damage to infrastructure and buildings. Consequently, he added, the country had to allocate billions of rupees to rehabilitate the affected people.

PM Shehbaz questioned whether a developing country like Pakistan could afford such costly loans and stressed that resources were required for providing health facilities.

Sharing his personal experiences, the premier said that treatment for fatal diseases like cancer was too costly for the poor population of Pakistan.

Read more: PM Shehbaz to attend special WEF meeting in Riyadh today

He said that as a chief minister of Punjab, he had provided about 130 million inhabitants of the province with the best medical treatment initiatives like screening and treatment facilities for Hepatitis in the remotest and backward areas of the province where the poor people had been in dire need of basic facilities like education and health.

The prime minister further informed that as the former chief minister, he also established the first kidney and liver hospital in Punjab which was probably one of the best in Asia where the poor patients were provided with free of cost treatment.

Regarding the dengue outbreak in 2011, he described it as one of the largest health sector challenges in the world. However, through the collaboration of experts, equipment, government machinery, civil society, and the general public, they launched a massive campaign against dengue larvae, ultimately controlling the outbreak with limited resources. He considered it a significant case study for the global health sector.

The premier appreciated the initiatives launched by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the health sector and said that they had been serving the ailing humanity with their kind gestures.

Also read: PM purges FBR of corrupt officials

He also appreciated the support provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for polio eradication drives in Pakistan and Bill Gates' generosity during the 2022 floods, aiding the affected people of Pakistan.

Expressing his views, World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed the importance of collective efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He expressed concerns over maternal and child mortality rates, highlighting that approximately 54 countries were still far from achieving the SDGs targets, with 4.9 billion people globally lacking access to basic services.

He noted the world's vulnerability to pandemics but expressed confidence in lessons learned from past experiences. Other participants raised concerns about increasing global conflicts impacting health sector requirements and stressed the importance of resource-rich countries assisting communities in need. They underscored the necessity of increased investment in the health sector.

Meeting with IDB president

During his meeting with the president of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) earlier in the day, the premier was assured that the bank would complete its pending development projects in Pakistan at the earliest.

The meeting also reviewed progress on ongoing projects and deliberated upon opportunities for future cooperation between Pakistan and the IDB.

PM Shehbaz thanked the bank for its investments in Pakistan and appreciated its assistance in rehabilitation after the 2022 floods.

He said the IDB’s fruitful partnership with Pakistan is instrumental in helping to achieve the government's sustainable development goals along with providing support for reconstruction and employment.

The premier highlighted that the SIFC is fully functional to channel foreign investment in the country, addressing all concerns of foreign investors and providing a one-window operation.

The IDB president said Pakistan is an important member of the bank and is blessed with rich natural and water resources. He stated that Pakistan's large manpower is an asset to be utilized optimally.


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