Pakistan's Health Minister Sherry Rehman said on Tuesday that the new government accorded priority to strengthening key elements of health systems at all levels and it would soon announce a national health service.
"A health policy task force has been formed and we will soon come up with a comprehensive health systems framework," she said in a speech at the World Health Assembly in Geneva.
Highlighting measures being taken by the government, she said the new national health policy was under consideration.
"This will provide an overall vision for public health development, based on the "Health for all" approach. We will pay attention to the issues of accessibility, affordability and acceptability of health services by the general population," she said.
The minister said the focus was being shifted to expand curative care to embrace preventive—from high-tech, cost-intensive healthcare to primary health care—and from investment in urban to rural areas.
She said the health sector could play a direct and significant role in achieving the goals—the reduction of child mortality, improving maternal health and combating HIV/Aids, malaria and tuberculosis.
She said that lady health workers (LHWs) had proved themselves to be community change agents and were recognised as flagship programme on public health delivery.
The minister said there had been a documented downswing in infant and maternal mortality rates.
An increase in coverage of immunisation and antenatal care, as well as use of contraceptives has also been documented.
Lady health workers are the frontline workers for polio eradication and they play a critical role in delivering immunisation and nutrition services as well as working to control malaria and tuberculosis, she said.
She said the government was increasing the number of LHWs to 200,000 in five years.
She said the government was also trying to interrupt polio virus in the country.
"Out of the four provinces and Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (Fata), only one province continues to have a pocket of wild polio virus transmission. More than 100 districts of the country remain polio-free," she added.
This, she said, "gives us a hope that we will be able to interrupt the virus by the end of this year and in this regard we thank our partners and donors for their continuing support and assistance.
"In view of the high prevalence of viral hepatitis, we have launched a national programme for prevention and control of hepatitis with a sizable budget. We are also planning to include non-communicable disease prevention, control and health promotion as a major programme area as part of the forthcoming health policy," she said.
Thus, Pakistan will soon have an indigenously driven 'MDG plus' agenda, the minister added.
The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 - form a blueprint agreed to by all the world's countries and all the world's leading development institutions.
And MDG-Plus is a concept whereby the MDGs will be transformed into the floor instead of a ceiling for human development. It is supposed to identify concrete activities to realise appropriately localised and adapted targets for narrowing the development gaps.