ISLAMABAD - The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination in partnership with the provincial and area departments of health and partners has finalized an evidence based Universal Health Coverage (UHC) benefit package for Pakistan.

This was informed at the inter-ministerial health and population forum which was held here to review and provide concurrence on the UHC benefit package. The meeting was attended by all health ministers, ministers of Population Welfare and health secretaries and Director General Health Services from all the provinces.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr. Faisal Sultan, addressing the forum said “Pakistan is the first country in the world to have used localized evidence on burden of disease and costing data to develop an essential package of health services and UHC benefit package of Pakistan.”

 He said that achievement of this milestone and implementation of the package in future will help the country in improving health outcomes and making speedy progress towards UHC. 

Dr. Faisal said “Now we have to move together towards the delivery of essential package of health services to every citizen in the country.”

In partnership with WHO and the Bill & Malinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the Disease Control Priorities-3 Secretariat provided technical support to the government of Pakistan through LSHTM, Radboud University, Health Planning, System Strengthening and Information Analysis Unit of the Ministry of NHSR&C, Aga Khan University and Health Services Academy to assist the development of the UHC benefit package of Pakistan. 

The provincial health ministers reflected their support for the Universal Health Coverage Benefit Package. 

Dr. Yasmeen Rashid, Health Minister Punjab, mentioned that Universal Health Coverage being the outcome and driver of progress, is at the centre of all efforts for developing our nation. Prioritizing investments in essential health services will bear dividends that will help in taking the country and province forward’. 

Dr. Azra Pechuho, Health Minister Sindh, reflected that  health is a human right and quality essential health services should be available to everyone, every time, with a special focus on equity for the most vulnerable in society. 

Dr Taimoor Khan Jhagra, Health Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said that investments in provision of essential health services underpin the reforms that the health care system in Pakistan has been seeking. Universal Health Coverage Benefit Package provides the opportunity of reforming our health care system.

 Dr. Rubaba Buledi, Parliamentary Secretary on Health for Balochistan, said “Investment in health and reaching out to each and every member of our society is a responsibility that we feel very strongly about and we would ensure all the efforts to take forward the cause of health of our people.”  

Dr. Imam Yar Baig, Health Minister Gilgit Baltistan said that ‘Universal Health Coverage Benefit Package underpinned by evidence is critical for Gilgit-Baltistan considering its difficult terrain and challenges of the health system. UHC BP will help a long way in achieving our health goals, he added. 

Dr. Najeeb Naqi, Health Minister AJK, said that “Achieving Universal Health Coverage is one of the key targets and we are committed to in order to ensure progress in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Investments in quality primary health care are the cornerstone to achieving Universal Health Coverage.”       

Presenting the essential package of health services, Dr. Sameen Siddiqui, Chair of the Steering Committee on UHC BP, informed the audience that implementation of this package of essential health services based on evidence and rigorous research, is the best solution for effective functioning of health system in Pakistan and delivering UHC results. 

Dr. Zafar Mirza, WHO Advisor on UHC emphasized on the need for significantly enhanced public sector investment both at federal and provincial level on essential and primary health care services, otherwise Pakistan health indicators will remain among the worst.