PESHAWAR - Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mah­mood Khan has said that strengthening of health infrastructure in the province to en­able it effectively deal with the challenges of COVID-19 is the top priority of his gov­ernment, as result-oriented steps are being taken under a well planned strategy to aug­ment the overall capacity of the public sec­tor hospitals.

Mahmood Khan, in a statement, said that the provincial government was committed to face COVID -19 challenges and improve the health service delivery system in the province.

The Chief Minister said that in order to ena­ble the existing health infrastructure to cope with the challenges of corona pandemic an amount worth Rs. 124 billion had been pro­posed for health sector in the annual budget of the upcoming financial year in addition to the Rs. 24 billion allocated for the emergency nature of expenditures fund. He said in or­der to enhance the capacity of the public sec­tor autonomous hospitals on emergency ba­sis, a fund of Rs. 10 billion has been allocated for the timely completion of ongoing devel­opmental schemes of these hospitals.

“During the upcoming financial year steps will be taken to enhance the capacity of all the public sector hospitals including Dis­trict Headquarters and Tehsil Headquarters Hospitals, Rural Health Centres and Basic Health Units of both the settled as well as newly merged districts with regard to ful­fil their requirements of trained Human re­sources, medical equipments, medicines and other required facilities,” the Chief Min­ister said.

Mahmood khan said that funds for pur­chase of essential medicines for public sec­tor hospitals had been increased to Rs 4.00 billion in the upcoming budget as com­pared to that of Rs 2.5 billion in the budget of 2019-20. He said Rs. 1 billion have also been allocated in the new budget for out­sourcing the solid waste management of public sector hospitals. “Provision of free medical treatment facility to the people of the province is top priority of our govern­ment and to this end a flagship programme of social health protection with a brand name of Sehat Insaf card was launched dur­ing our previous government with a limit­ed coverage,” Mahmood khan said adding that now the coverage of the social health protection scheme is being extended to the entire population of the province for which an amount of Rs. 10 billion has been allo­cated in the health budget of financial year 2020-21.