Islamabad  -  Federal minister for National Health Services (NHS) Muhammad Yusuf Sheikh on Wednesday said that Pakistan is committed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals agenda and Universal Health Coverage (UHC) program.

The minister said this while was addressing a meeting held here on Developing National Universal Health Coverage Priority Benefits Package.

He said Pakistan is the fifth most populous country in the world with an estimated population of over 213 million and aims to successfully implement the agenda of every individual’s right to physical wellbeing, i.e., overall health, in order to ensure economic and social development of its people.

Minister said that main objective of UHC is the quality of essential package of health services to be comprehensive and accessible by all and to improve the health of those receiving the services.

“Fragmented nature of today’s health system means that they are becoming increasingly unable to respond to the demands placed upon them,” the minister said.

He said that the focus on hospital-based, disease-based and self-contained curative care models undermine the ability of health system to provide universal, equitable, high quality and financially sustainable care.

“UHC will not be achieved without improvements in service delivery so that all people are able to access high quality health services that meet their needs and preferences,” he added.

Minister said in case of Pakistan, ‘Financial Health Protection Initiatives’ and ‘Family Practice Approach’ are strategic choices for the federal and provincial governments to meet the fundamental challenges faced by the health system in the country.

Minister further added that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has given impetus to Universal Health Coverage as an overarching target to guide health systems transformations to achieve the health-specific and health-related Sustainable Development Goals targets.

“Specifically, SDG 3.8 calls for achieving universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health care services, and access to safe, effective, quality, and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all,” he said.

Hence, the need for all countries to identify their ‘Health Benefits Package’ and ensure its accessibility for all.

Minister said we are fully committed to work closely with World Health Organization (WHO) and other stakeholders to fully benefit from piloting of translation of DCP-3 into Essential Health Package in Pakistan.

Minister appreciated the support of World Health Organization in improving access to essential health services and development of health benefit packages as well as building capacity in financial risk protection and priority setting, which is strongly acknowledged.