ISLAMABAD-Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Health Services (NHS) Dr Zafar Mirza on Saturday said that health reform is the prime priority of the government.

He said this in a statement issued by the Ministry of NHS in response to the opposition’s press conference on health. The statement released by the Ministry of NHS referring to SAPM Dr. Zafar Mirza said that Pakistan’s preparation and response to COVID-19 has been one of the best in the world.

He said that “we started early, our first case was delayed in the region (26 Feb) and our decline in cases is earliest than most other countries.” He said that due to hard work of teams, the government has been able to contain the disease through timely decisions, Smart lockdown strategy, SOPs implementation and Trace, Test and Quarantine Strategy.

He also said that the government has ramped up the health system capacity and have undertaken close monitoring of the situation and appropriate decision making at national level through establishing NCOC.  A statement also said that public sector hospitals in the country have become very inefficient and low quality and are seen as health facilities only for the poor and the government is trying to reform these hospitals. “It is absolutely incorrect that the government is privatising the public sector hospitals. Instead we are making these hospitals autonomous,” the statement said. It said that the statement would still remain the property of the government which would continue to finance these facilities but these hospitals will be run through better local management and efficient decision making. “Poor patients will continue to receive preferential treatment but a better quality treatment than before,” said the statement. 

It also added that the issues faced by the health sector today in Pakistan are a result of a collective failure of all previous governments who never prioritised the health needs of the people of Pakistan.

It is ironic that the same people are today trying to champion health development in Pakistan.

PTI government is fully aware of the problems and working hard to fix them through introducing fundamental reforms by bringing primary health care based universal health coverage in the country.