Islamabad - The Ministry of National Health Services has stopped funding of all vertical health programmes running in the country, the Senate body was told on Monday.

The meeting of Senate Standing Committee on NHS was held here in the chair of Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Sheikh.

The legislatures were astonished when the government officials told the committee that Federal Ministry of NHS has stopped funding to all vertical health programmes in the country since June 30, 2018.

After the 18th amendment though health was devolved to provinces but vertical immunisation programmes were kept at federal level. There are around twelve vertical health programmes including polio eradication programme, AIDS control programme, Childhood Tuberculosis, Diarrhoea, Measles, Hepatitis-B, Diphtheria, Tetnus, Pneumonia, Perttussis and meningitis.

The committee was informed that no fund has been given to provinces after June 2018.

Secretary Ministry of NHS Captain (Retd) Zahid Saeed briefed the committee that the funding of vertical health programme was carried out through National Finance Commission (NFC) Award since 2011.

He said that the funds were given in 2011 through award and next allocation was also to be done through NFC Award 2015.

However, he said, the government didn’t award the NFC in 2015 and the ministry kept supporting the programme till June 2018.

He said that the matter of awarding NFC was taken to Council of Common Interest (CCI) and funding has been stopped until any final decision at CCI.

He also said that after the freezing of funding for vertical programmes at federal level the provinces themselves allocated the funds for health programmes.

However, he also added that the province of Balochistan had demanded

Rs1 billion for the health programmes from federal level which were arranged.

Secretary Health Zahid Saeed also said that though funding of federal component has been stopped, the foreign funding component is still being transferred to provinces to carry on the health activities.

Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq expressing displeasure over the stopping of funds of vertical health programmes said that the ministry should have raised the matter on top administrative level and issued red alert for the smooth flow of funding for vertical health programs.

She said that programmes like Polio, AIDS, TB and Malaria were being run in vertical health programmes and which were affected due to lack of funds.

Executive Director (NIH) National Institute of Health (NIH) Major General Aamer Ikram told the committee that 210 million dollars grant is allocated for the national AIDS programme and distributed.

Chairman Committee Sheikh Ateeq said that all provinces should be taken on board to record their problems due to stoppage of funds in vertical health programmes.

On the questions of Senator Siraj-ul-Haq regarding price hike of medicines in the country, the secretary NHS said that price of 464 medicines were increased above 50 per cent from January 2019.

He said that prices of 52 products from 464 were increased upto 75 per cent and other 12 products were increased upto more than 100 per cent.

He said that the ministry has held talks with the pharmaceutical companies on illegal price hike and the decisions taken on this issue will be presented in cabinet today.

He also added that substantial reduction in the price of 52 medicines would be done in upcoming days.

The chairman committee urged the ministry to present all the details of price hike and identify the elements that facilitated the price hike. He also asked the ministry officials to give a detailed briefing of 2.4 per cent factor implemented by Drugs Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) to increase the prices.

The senators also recommended summoning of the management of Shifa International Hospital and Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) to explain the committee that how an organisation started on the name of charity was converted into commercial business.