LAHORE – Punjab Caretaker Health Minister Salima Hashmi on Tuesday said that access to health facilities is the basic right of every citizen and the health department will have to strive hard to further improve health indicators so that the medical needs of people could be met.

She expressed these views while addressing a meeting on healthcare delivery system at the committee room of health department. Secretary Health Punjab Arif Nadeem, Additional Secretary Health (Technical) Dr Anwar Janjua, Director Punjab Health Sector Reforms Programme Farasat Iqbal, Provincial Coordinator on Lady Health Workers Programme Dr Akhtar Rashid Malik and other concerned officers attended the meeting. Secretary Health gave a briefing to the Provincial Minister on healthcare system. The Provincial Minister said that mortality rate among mother and child in Pakistan was alarming which should be a matter of concern for health managers. She said that most of the deaths are caused by anemia, malnutrition and untrained birth attendants. She said that a number of pregnant women lose their life before reaching health centers. Salima Hashmi stressed the need of launching a vigorous public awareness campaign among rural women and said that supervision of skilled birth attendants save the lives of mother and child and there is a need to impress upon the women this fact.

Provincial Minister further said that due to poverty, unemployment and rapid increase in population, women especially small children face malnutrition and anemia. She said that there is a need for birth interval so that children could be raised properly and the dietary needs of mother and child are fulfilled. She said that prices of medicines in Pakistan have gone beyond the reach of the common man and the poor and middle classes rely on public sector hospitals for treatment.

Hashmi underscored the importance of effective measures for the access of rural patients especially pregnant women to basic health centers and rural health centers for medical assistance.

Secretary Health Arif Nadeem said that the efforts and solid measures taken by the health department are yielding positive results and there is a gradual improvement in health indicators. He said that under 24/7 programme labour room facilities are being provided in all basic health centers of 12 districts. He said that this programme has been very successful and its scope will be extended to all districts of the province. Secretary Health further informed that mother and child health week will be celebrated during the current month in the whole province for creating awareness about mother and child health.