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Low budget, shortage of staff hampering patient care

PESHAWAR: Disproportionate budgetary allocation, shortage of staff and absence of efficient supply chain management system have been hampering health department’s plan to provide quality services to a desired level to patients, especially in rural areas of the province.

According to a recent report of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Department, only 7.1 per cent or Rs38 billion of the provincial budget was allocated for health in 2015 despite increase in the federal money in the wake of 7th NFC Award which shot up the province’s share to 14.62 per cent.

It, however, said that spending on health had grown annually and saw rise from Rs 32.89 billion in 2013-14 to Rs42.61 billion in 2016-17, which was merely 8.43 per cent of the total budget. Of this 33 per cent went to the development and 67 per cent fixed costs like employees salaries.

The report said that 76.6 per cent patients visited private hospitals and clinics in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

According to the Community Information Empowerment and Training Survey, only 9 per cent of the patients received prescribed drugs at the hospitals.

The report has outlined the department’s Comprehensive Development Strategy, indicating outcomes of its plans for improvement in population’s health status through high quality, acceptable and affordable services in an equitable manner.

It said that the health indicators demonstrated a serious need to improve the service delivery in terms of both coverage and quality. It said that per capita health expenditure had risen from Rs1,154.22 to Rs1,493.29.

The government had sought strategy plans from the social sector departments to take measures for improvement. Only 0.8 per cent of GDP was allocated to health sector nationally, the most vital for socio-economic development.

It said that the allocation was disproportionate and had sought increase in budget due to population’s growth to recruit more staff and establish facilities.

In the rural areas, 55.9 per cent women sought assistance of trained healthcare providers compared to 60.5 per cent in urban areas.

Citing Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2013, the report claimed that 44.1 deliveries in rural areas took place under trained birth attendants compared to 48.3 per cent in urban areas and suggested establishing more health units in rural areas.

KP has 1,594 healthcare facilities, including nine teaching hospitals, 21 district headquarters hospitals, 23 tehsil headquarters hospitals and six women and children hospitals besides four category C, 20 category D, 43 civil, four police and four jail hospitals. Other health facilities included 784 basic health units, 447 civil dispensaries, 92 rural health centres, 23 sub facilities and 56 mother children, 24 leprosy and 35 TB centers.

The report stated that about 60,000 employees were working in these health institutions. They included 845 specialists, 7,980 medical officers, 338 dental surgeons, 488 health managers, 4,461 nurses, 15,000 lady health workers, 1,450 community midwives and 14,542 paramedics, who were supposed to provide quality care to 25 million people.

The province’s Maternal Mortality Rate was 275 per 100,000 live births, infant mortality rate 63 per 1,000 live births and Under-5 Mortality Rate 75 per 1,000 live births whereas fertility rate was the highest in the country. One Lady Health Worker was available for 923 people and a doctor for 5,230 people.

The department has so far fallen short of its goal to ensure universal health coverage due to financial issues.

Courtesy : Dawn News

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