Health facilities to be improved in refugee-hosting districts – Newspaper

PESHAWAR: The health department with the financial assistance of World Bank will launch a programme to strengthen primary and secondary healthcare services in the four districts hosting Afghan refugees.

The WB has pledged $200 million to improve health and education services in Peshawar, Nowshera, Swabi and Haripur as local population has been affected by the presence of Afghan refugees. These four districts are hosting 63 per cent of the total refugees living in the province.

Executive Committee of the National Economic Council approved a PC-1 last week to improve maternal and child health services, immunisation and nutrition besides enhancing the capacity of Health Foundation and Health Care Commission to outsource diagnostic and waste management services to private organisations so that people can be treated timely.

WB pledges $200 million to upgrade health and education services in Peshawar, Nowshera, Swabi and Haripur

The programme covers over 150 basic health units, rural health centres and category D hospitals in these four districts.

The health department will implement the five-year programme with a tiny project management unit in Peshawar, according to officials. They said that Afghan refugees in those districts affected the local population in the area of health.

They said that several hospitals in refugee-hosting districts were visited by Afghans despite the fact that those were meant for local patients. Therefore, 58 per cent of the bank’s assistance was credit and 42 per cent to compensate the native people, they added.

The WB’s project International Development sub-window refugees, seeks to put in place effective purchasing and procurement system in the designated districts to ensure provision of uninterrupted services to the patients.

According to the plan, ambulance services will be started to transport referred patients from primary healthcare facilities to secondary hospitals. A proper referral system aimed at bringing down maternal and infant and child mortalities besides prevention of delivery-related complications will be enforced.

Officials said that the PC-1 also included installation of MRI, CT scan and high-tech laboratories for pathological services in the health facilities. “Already, we have designed the programme, keeping in view the missing services in the relevant facilities. Medical supplies, instruments and human services apart from training of staff have been planned in the respective facilities,” they added.

They said that a new mechanism would be developed to make the health facilities accountable through engagement of the communities. They said that there would be drastic overhauling of the facilities and all the infrastructures, once developed, would be sustained through involvement and oversight of the community people.

Officials said that screening and management of non-communicable diseases in the respective districts were at the centre stage of the programme with a view to reduce burden of ailments. An important component of the project was promoting family planning services to safeguard women from avoidable diseases due to lack of facilities, they added.

They said that special attention would be paid to prevention and management of Covid-19. As all of these districts, especially Peshawar, have been the worst-hit by the virus, the department will further strengthen diagnostic and management services through installation of PCR laboratories and improvement in intensive care.

“Within a week, the health department will accord administrative approval after which the programme will be launched formally,” said officials.

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2021

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