ISLAMABAD - The present government has introduced unprecedented Prime Minister's Health Programme for providing free and easy access to health facilities to the people and this  initiative was the vision of the former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.

This was stated by the minister of State for Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb here Tuesday, while speaking at the awareness campaign regarding health of the child and mother with the theme 'Umeed Say Aagay"(Beyond the Hope) jointly organized by Human Development Foundation and Sun Secretariat. She said that for the first time a health programme initiated for the people living below the poverty line was running successfully and will be a step forward towards welfare state.

The minister reiterated that large scale awareness campaign was imperative for resolving health issues of mother and child, particularly in the rural areas where it was badly needed. She said that the media could play a very vital role in the success of the awareness campaign and it could also be effectively run through mobile phones. She emphasized the need for awareness campaign at the local level which she said could be more effective in producing the desired results.

Marriyum revealed that awareness campaign on the subject would also be started through PTV and Radio. She said that there was a mandatory provision in the licensing of the TV channels by PEMRA that they would devote 10% of their airtime to the social messages and campaigns. The minister said that the performance of Basic Health Units could also be improved with the cooperation of the private sector.

She said that awareness about the health of the child and mother was given top priority in the world and the nutritional deficiency and shortage of food were regarded as the most important issues. The minister said that the subject needed unruffled attention in Pakistan in addition to proper research for finding plausible solutions adding that the matter was being dealt through the SDGS.

The minister said that Pakistan was playing its due role for the achievement of SDGS and was the only country in the world which had established a proper secretariat of SDGS in its parliament. She said that the targets of Vision 2025 were also linked with SDGS.

The minister said that a parliamentary  task force comprising representatives of all political parties had been set up for the achievement of SDGS and during the last three years it had ensured implementation of a number of steps taken in that regard adding that without the help of the parliament it was impossible to achieve the targets of the SDGS. She said that the task forces constituted at the provincial level were also functioning effectively.

Marriyum said that the problems regarding shortage of food for children were being addressed on priority basis and the parliamentarians had also been assigned roles in the implementation of the polio campaign and other health issues.

The minister said that food shortage was an issue which required a proper and authentic data to deal with it effectively and to formulate comprehensive policies on that basis. She said that census had been held in Pakistan after a long period and relevant data was being collected which would help in setting up future targets.

She said that some data had also been collected with the arrival of MDGS in the country. The minister said that one of the reasons for the failure in achieving the MDGS targets, the signing of which also made Pakistan part of the SDGS, was the lack of proper framework. The minister congratulated the HDF and Sun Secretariat for initiating the awareness campaign.

Executive Director HDF Saeed Ahsan shed light on awareness campaign, food shortage, health issues of the newly born babies, precautions and timely treatment. Chairman Board of Directors of HDF Khalid Riaz, CEO HDF Azhar Saleem and Chief Nutrition of Sun Secretariat also addressed the audience.