LAHORE - Presiding over a high level meeting on Sunday, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said that health insurance scheme will soon be launched for providing free of cost treatment facilities to the poorest segments of the society.The chief minister said that scope of this scheme to be initiated from Hafizabad, Chakwal, Rajanpur, and Layyah districts, will be extended to the whole province under a phased programme.Assembly members and senior officers of health department attending the meeting held to review pace of work on various health projects. The chief minister was told that work was in progress on 138 projects in health sector under Annual Development Programme during current fiscal year and out of these 26 projects were new. He was further told that projects of setting up drug testing laboratories for improving standard of medicines and food testing laboratories for evaluating the quality of food items were also being implemented expeditiously. Addressing the meeting, Shahbaz said provision of modern health facilities to the masses was among the top priorities of the government and a huge sum of Rs. 17 billion was being spent on the uplift of health sector, implementation development projects and provision of medical facilities to the people during the current year. He said that billons of rupees had been spent on provision of free medicines in public sector hospitals of the province during the last five years and this process will continue in future as well. The chief minister said that Punjab government had spent huge resources on providing best medical facilities to the patients during the last five years. He said that new hospitals equipped with latest medical facilities had been set up in the province and are providing quality health facilities to the masses. He said that besides setting up new hospitals, special attention had also been paid to up-gradation of Tehsil and district headquarters hospitals. He said that solid steps had been taken for ensuring availability of doctors, para-medical staff and medicines in these hospitals for providing best medical facilities to the people at the local level. The chief minister said that people of rural and remote areas were also being provided treatment facilities through mobile health units. He said that government was providing huge funds for the provision of health facilities in south Punjab on priority basis.. He further said that full attention is also being paid to the promotion of medical education in the province and three new medical colleges have been set up while the buildings of these colleges are being completed speedily. The chief minister directed that sanitation system of hospitals be improved while the best treatment facilities be provided to the patients. He said that protection of people against diseases and provision of modern treatment facilities to masses is the responsibility of the concerned authorities and no negligence or dereliction would be tolerated in this regard. He also directed that efforts should be made for ensuring timely completion of ongoing projects in health sector.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 24-Feb-2014 here.