PESHAWAR           -        Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan on Sunday said that strengthening of health infrastructure in the province in order to enable it to effectively deal with the challenge of COVID-19 has been the top priority of the provincial government and the result- oriented steps are being taken under a well planned strategy to augment the overall capacities of the public sector hospitals.

He said the government was working to change the challenges posed by COVID-19 into an opportunity to strengthen and improve the health service delivery system in the province.

In a statement issued here, Mahmood Khan said that in order to enable the existing health system to cope with the challenges of coronavirus pandemic, a huge amount of worth Rs124 billion had been proposed for the health sector in the annual budget of the upcoming financial year in addition to the Rs24 billion allocated to fund the emergency nature of expenditures. The chief minister said that in order to enhance the capacities of the public sector tertiary care autonomous hospitals on emergency basis, a fund to the tune of Rs10 billion had been allocated for the timely completion of the ongoing developmental schemes of these hospitals which was over and above the current side allocation of Rs26 billion. “During the upcoming financial year steps will be taken to enhance the capacities of all the public sector hospitals, including District Headquarters and Tehsil Headquarters Hospitals, Rural Health Centers and Basic Health Units of both the settled as well as newly merged districts with regard to fulfilling their requirements of trained human resources, medical equipments, medicines and other required facilities,” the CM remarked adding that in this regard need assessment of all these health service delivery outlets was being carried out.

Mahmood Khan continued that funds for the purchase of essential medicines for public sector hospitals had been increased to Rs4 billion in the upcoming budget as compared to that of 2.5 billion rupees in the budget of 2019-20, and added that a fund of Rs one billion had also been allocated in the new budget for outsourcing the solid waste management of public sector hospitals.

“Provision of free medical treatment to the people of the province has been the 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 first term in office with a limited coverage,” Mahmood Khan remarked, adding that now the coverage of the social health protection schemes was being extended to the entire population of the province for which an amount of Rs10 billion had been allocated in the health budget of the financial year 2020-21.