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Islamabad - The federal government has proposed a cut of nearly 50 percent in its 2018-19 budget for the health sector, putting at risk key disease control initiatives in a country where public spending on health is almost lowest in the region.

The government has proposed a little bit over Rs25 billion for different health schemes for the next fiscal year against the Rs48 billion allocated for healthcare last year.

In a nutshell, the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) will get Rs25010 million for development schemes after a massive cut of Rs23 billion from the last year’s Rs48 billion allocations.

As compared to the previous year, the NHS has proposed 36 new schemes for which the government has proposed an allocation of over Rs18287 million. Last year, only five new schemes were introduced by the health ministry.

For the 12 ongoing schemes, Rs12422.551 million has been proposed for the next financial year.

The new schemes also include the second phase of Prime Minister National Health Programme, for which Rs4 billion had been proposed against the allocation of Rs7 billion last year.

Another PM’s scheme, under which the ministry has to construct 46 hospitals across the country, will get Rs1317.752 million in the next year’s budget.

Though the health sector has been devolved to provinces after the 18th amendment, key health programmes including AIDS, maternal and child health, cancer treatment, TB and malaria are being looked after by the NHS.

The government has allocated above Rs282 million for family planning and primary health care in FATA, while Rs17million had been allocated for hepatitis control.

The government has allocated Rs11500 million for a special initiative for health scheme and Rs108 million for Pakistan nutrition programme.

A sizeable sum had been proposed for different health programmes at the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

An allocation of Rs106 million had been proposed for strengthening the Health Services Academy, Rs37.67 million for enhancement of NHS infrastructure in ICT and Rs58.821 million have been proposed for treatment of cancer patients in ICT, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Under the new schemes, Rs160 million had been allocated for strengthening the technical capacity of NHS, above Rs50 million for up gradation of a stable at National Institute of Health (NIH) and up-gradation of the laboratory animal facility in Islamabad.

Rs28 million had been also proposed for the national tobacco control cell and Rs200 million had been allocated for the National Preventive Health Programme against Rs500 million in the previous year.

Above Rs15 million had been proposed for the prevention of blindness in AJK, G-B and FATA.

A sum of Rs7835million had been allocated for the Expanded Programme on Immunization under the NHS.

A sum of Rs1046.360 million will come in the shape of foreign assistance for development schemes at the national level while Rs23963.70 million had been proposed locally.

Of the 36 new proposed schemes, four are approved while the rest are unapproved.