Coping with the monsoon: Without a budget, emergency response body can’t do much

NHEPRN forced to rely on assistance from donors, pharma firms


Sehrish Wasif July 07, 2015
Flooded streets in Pakistan. PHOTO: ZOHAIB AMIN

ISLAMABAD: Even as the prospect of monsoon showers draws closer, the resource crunch at the National Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Network (NHEPRN) is becoming increasingly evident. The emergency response body is currently at the mercy of national and international donor agencies and pharmaceutical companies to meet the country’s needs.

There is an urgent need for the allocation of an emergency budget for all the provinces as well as for all districts to cope with any kind of monsoon rain-related calamity.

While some parts of the country have already started to experience monsoon rains, the provincial governments of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are still faced with financial constraints to address gaps and have pointed the problems out in the Monsoon Contingency Health Plan 2015.

Talking to The Express Tribune, a senior official at the emergency response body, requesting anonymity, said no separate funds are being allocated to the NHEPRN which functions under the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination (NHSRC).

The official said every year NHEPRN has to seek assistance from various pharmaceutical companies, national and international donor agencies to provide medicines, vaccines and other necessary items to deal in an emergency-like situation during monsoon.

“The government should allocate separate funds to NHEPRN so that it can prepare itself before the onset of monsoon. We fear that if one day the pharmaceutical companies refuse to support us, how we are we going to function,” said the official.

The official further said that the prime minister usually releases funds for the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) during emergencies so that it can continue to function effectively, therefore the same should be done with NHEPRN.

“Every year a large number of people are affected by floods and many die because of preventable disease therefore it is the need of the hour to take all this seriously by taking preemptive measures to save as many lives as possible,” said the official.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2015.

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