The federal government would continue to lend technical support to the provincial governments in execution of important national programmes in the health sector.this was stated byFinance Minister Ishaq Dar, while presenting the budgetary speech on Friday. The minister said the health sector service delivery had been fully devolved to the provincial governments and as per the decision taken by the Council of Common Interests (CCI) in 2010, the federal government continued to support the provincial governments till this year for the national health and population welfare programmes. “From the next fiscal year, we expect the provinces to fund for these initiatives,” he added. It is important that last year, the federal government had provided support to the provinces on programmes including the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Programme along with programmes for blinds and control on Avian Influenza like infections by announcing an allocation of Rs8.226 billion. In the federal budget announced for the year 2015-16, the federal government announced Rs20.70 billion for the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Division under Public Sector Development Programme for as many as 21 ongoing schemes and for three new schemes. The three new schemes include establishment of a cancer hospital in Islamabad whose status is unapproved so far while the other two schemes include feasibility study for cancer hospital in Islamabad and Prime Minister’s National Health Insurance Programme. Under the head of health affairs and services, a total allocation of Rs11.01 billion has been made in the budget estimates of 2015-16 which is higher by 8.8 percent and 9.9 percent respectively when compared with the budget and revised estimates for 2014-15. Of Rs11.01 billion, Rs9.13 billion would be spent for hospital services, and Rs1.42 billion on health administration while only Rs27 million would be spent for medical products, appliances and equipment.Like the previous two budgets, the PML-N government announced no revolutionary measures for improvement of services in health sector for the fiscal year 2015-16. This year too, the federal government allocated almost nothing to improve services in a number of departments including medical, education and burn care departments. The federal government announced no reduction in the import duty rate on raw materials used in pharmaceuticals, medicines and diagnostic kits to make life saving drugs available to general public on reasonable prices. It is also against the expectations of a number of health experts that the federal government announced nothing for expansion of healthcare facilities at all levels including primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare facilities. Also the federal government announced no budgetary allocations for research and development in health sector. In his budgetary speech, Ishaq Dar, however, announced a special initiative, the Prime Minister’s Health Insurance Scheme, under which insurance shall be provided for tertiary healthcare and from 2015 to 2018, the premium cost of the scheme would be Rs9 billion. The federal government announced an allocation of Rs3 billion for the scheme under the Public Sector Development Programme for the fiscal year 2015-16. The minister said that initially, the scheme would be launched in 23 districts to provide coverage for hospitalisation for several diseases. However, the project coverage would be gradually increased to 60 percent of the poorest segment of the population in the next three years.