The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has approved revamping the health sector to effectively address the problems of preventive and curative diseases. A handout from the information department claims the public will start witnessing the benefits of these reforms within two months.
To achieve this end, the health sector would need to reach each and every segment of society of the province and base salaries and benefits on performances.
A working group on health sector reforms completed its inquiry and submitted recommendations based on its findings. It found hospitals in the province to be dysfunctional; “both primary and preventive healthcare cannot address the need of the hour” and communicable diseases are on the rise.
The reforms were approved in a meeting chaired by K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak. Minister for Health Shaukat Yousafzai, K-P Secretary Health Dr Fakhre Alam, officials of the health department and members of the working group participated. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and PTI leaders Jahangir Tareen, Mushtaq Ghani were also part of the meeting.
“The reforms specifically address the issues of increasing rates of maternal mortality, infant mortality, child mortality, malnutrition; thus addressing maternity and child health (MCH),” stated the handout.
Reform, revamp, recreate health
In terms of hospital management and streamlining services, the reforms “will also focus on the autonomy of tertiary hospitals; introduction and constitution of management and health coordination boards at the district level; and the decentralisation
The recommendations include the reconstitution of the K-P Health Foundation, where the ratio of non-government members will be increased. Part of the mandate of the Health Foundation is based on helping health institutions meet basic health needs, finance institutions in health deficient areas, provide fiscal help to private institutes and apply for loans through international donors.
Other bodies which might be overhauled include the K-P Health Regulatory Authority. Recent reports suggest the authority has been making illegal appointments based on nepotism and favouritism.
The handout also suggested the establishment of the Drug and Food Regulation Authority.
The terms of reference for district health management boards will be finalised by August 30 and a start towards district health coordination boards will be taken around September 30.
During the meeting, Khattak directed the relevant authorities to fill vacant posts of 250 nurses and 450 doctors immediately. On July 24, the health department had stated it would fill all vacancies under a week. According to information obtained from the department at the time, at least 40% senior posts in hospitals remain vacant.
The CM also asked drug inspectors to push their efforts against spurious and substandard medicines. If need be, relevant authorities should send him a summary for sanctioning more posts for inspectors.
“For the first time in the country, in particular in the public sector, e-Health and telemedicine have been introduced,” reads the reform handout. e-Health or electronic health uses mobile and other digital communication to educate the public about health issues. Telemedicine will facilitate long distance health
consultations and prescription using video conference.
“By next month health cards will be issued at basic health units, and MIS or management information systems along the lines of the systems used at Shaukat Khanum Hospital will be rolled out
within six months at Hayatabad Medical Complex.”
Health services need to be above politics, stated Imran Khan. The PTI chairman and MNA directed the reconstitution of health services be free from political and government influence and be exclusively based on performance and quality.
Therefore, the reforms also place priority on adequate training in different tiers of the health sector personnel.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2013.