Pakistan has taken a major step in the realm of universal health-insurance coverage by launching the National Health-Insurance Initiative, which caters to the health needs of population living below the poverty line through provision of free health services in the public and private sectors. The initiative, in terms of its model and scale, serves as an example that can be replicated in other countries of the region.
Minister of State for Health Saira Afzal Tarar shared details of Pakistan’s health-insurance model while addressing the World Health Organisation’s regional meeting which was attended in Cairo Tuesday by representatives of 22 countries from South Asia, Middle East and North Africa.
“The initiative will cater to 10 million individuals all over Pakistan in the first phase. Families are being issued health cards through a transparent system. Thousands of patients have already benefitted from interventions including cardiac surgeries, and treatment of cancer and other major diseases in best private and government hospitals in their districts,” Saira informed.
The minister added that a number of new hospitals are being constructed across the country in order to add more than 12,000 beds to the existing pool, thereby addressing the challenge posed by low patient-to-bed ratio in Pakistan.
Saira said, Pakistan is fully cognizant of the global health implications of Anti-Microbial Resistance for which a national AMR policy has been prepared and is ready for implementation. Moreover, claiming tremendous progress in the fight against polio, she assured the international community that all peculiar challenges including militancy and inaccessibility are being overcome to rid the country of polio.
Pakistan, Saira added, has increased taxes on cigarette packs and tobacco advertisements have been banned in print, electronic and outdoor media. “The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control impact assessment exercise has been conducted in Pakistan which has found the programme to be compliant to the provisions of the Convention,” she concluded.