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ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a conference, while expressing grave concern over the low spending on healthcare system in Pakistan, have stressed the need for bringing health spending as per the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to better fight any pandemic in the future.

They highlighted this, while speaking at a session titled, “Beyond Covid-19 challenges to primary healthcare and preparedness in Pakistan” at the second day of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) annual conference.

They said that at present, Pakistan’s per capita spending on health is below one percent, which is far below the global set standards and the country needs to bring it around three percent in a bid to enable the healthcare sector better cope with the Covid-19 like pandemics in the future.

The pandemic has slowed down the region’s steady progress towards improving nutrition, and it is high time to discuss how to turn the tide on malnutrition as the region appears to be returning to some form of normalcy, they said.

The Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted marginalised and vulnerable communities in low- and middle-income countries, including pregnant and lactating women and young children across the South Asia region.

Speaking at the session, Dr Shahzad Ali, vice-chancellor (VC) Health Services Academy, said Pakistan needs to think over what are the meanings of primary healthcare, because in Pakistan, the authorities are not providing primary healthcare, but only the first level of healthcare during pandemic.

Dr Rana Javed talked about the decreased role of primary health care during the pandemic, because, he said due to lack of health facilities during the pandemic people mostly were using home based practices because, they were scared of vaccines, so there is a need to work on the preparedness of the health infrastructure.

Dr Yasmin strongly advocated for women health, saying prevent women from underage marriages, invest in their education, and act now before it is too late.

Dr Adeela Rehman said many families lack emotional and financial support, maternal health suffers a lot because of low care from families and their caregiver. So there is a need to improve health infrastructure and increase health-related awareness through mass media.

When Covid started there were three warnings given to the world. One was about disease itself, second was about an emerging food crisis, and the third was about economic recession, says Dr Abid Suleri. Recent estimates show the number of severe to moderate food insecure population is among the highest in South Asia, says Minister Fakhar Imam.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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