DN Report: Another year has passed by, where the ruling elite & legislators of Pakistan have once again failed to respond generously to the health miseries and medical needs of the common man in this poor country.
The National Budget 2014-2015 was announced, among great expectations, but the poor masses were once again disappointed to see that; among the massive allocations made for the non developmental expenditure & luxuries of the rulers, the Healthcare budget will be an insufficient fund of 26.80 billion Rupees. It surely cannot suffice for providing quality health services to more than 180 million people living in Pakistan today.
Another meager amount of Rs. 31 million has been allocated as the additional fund to run the Prime Minister’s Dengue and Pollen Allergy Programme over the next year. Following the 18th constitutional amendment, health has become a provincial subject. However, the federal government still runs several national health-related programmes, including the Expanded Programme on Immunisation, (EPI), Control of Diarrhoeal disease and National Institute of Health (NIH). The Prime Minister has also announced the intention of launching a health insurance scheme with Rs. One Billion to help the poorest of segments.
The size of PSDP (Public Sector Development Programme) for National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination Division shows a minor increase from Rs. 26,802 million during the previous year to Rs. 27,015 in the new budget for 2014-2015.
However, the government has shown some generosity for health sector, by waiving off the import duties applicable on Modern Medical Equipment and healthcare technology. Another generous allocation of Rs. 63 billion has been made for promotion of higher education, which will be helpful to many of the medical professionals who desire to improve their qualifications for serving their nation better.
Under the head of Health Affairs and Services, a total allocation of Rs 10,017 million has been made, which is higher by 1.6% and 6.2% respectively when compared with budget and revised estimates 2013-14. The allocation for Hospital Services forms the major component under this classification.
Considering the high costs of medical facilities and the large segments of poor Pakistanis, the government should have made a sizeable increase in the Health budget to ensure relief for the deprived segments of our society.