October 09, 2017

 Islamabad October 9, 2017: Federal Minister for National Health Services Regulation & Coordination, Saira Afzal Tarar said that it is a great honour for Pakistan to have the opportunity to host this prestigious international conference which is the highest profile health event in the region. Hosting of Regional Committee Meeting in Pakistan would serve to bring our great nations together and cement the ties between our brotherly countries while she was addressing “Inaugural Session of the Regional Committee Meeting of Eastern Mediterranean Region of World Health Organization” on October 9, 2017.


Minister said Eastern Mediterranean region has a population of nearly 583 million people. We must correct the disparity in health spending of this region vis-à-vis global health spending. We must invest in human capital and prioritize health when allocating resources.   


She said facing common problems. There is a wealth of global and local knowledge in the region. There is a challenge of access of public to health services. We must employ innovation to ensure equity in access to health services.      


Provision of healthcare is the foundation of the development of human society. The collective deliberation by the experts of our region on this important subject and related issues is highly gratifying. I am confident our deliberations will be highly fruitful and play a significant role in improving healthcare as some of the problems of this region are of identical nature and we have to solve them collectively. Our contiguity, bonds of common faith, history, cultural and similar socio-economic conditions demand a collective effort to address the diverse issues in health and this conference can be a milestone in this regard.


Minister further said that Our National Health Vision is fully aligned to health related SDGS. Pakistan has taken major steps in the realm of universal health coverage and social protection by launching the landmark National Health Insurance initiative- The Prime Minister’s National Health Program. The Program caters to the health needs of population living below the poverty line through provision of free of cost quality health services made available in both public and private sector.

Families all over the country are being issued health cards through a highly transparent system. We are confident that the initiative in terms of its model and scale serves as an example that can be replicated in other countries of the region. 

She said Pakistan is fully cognizant of the global health implications of Anti-Microbial Resistance. Under a comprehensive National AMR Containment policy emphasis has been laid on the five strategic objectives of the WHO Global Action Plan for AMR. We are working to optimize the use of antimicrobial medicines in human health sector, agriculture and animal health sector though implementation of a multi-pronged strategy in line with our national AMR policy.



Pakistan’s Joint External Evaluation of International Health Regulations and Global Health Security Agenda. Pakistan has won appreciation and is being seen as a model for others to follow.  

She said Pakistan is fighting the final battle against Polio after a major turnaround has been achieved by our country, winning appreciation of the international community. With the patronage of the President and leadership of our Prime Minister we will Insha Allah achieve the final victory against polio.

Special attention has been paid to strengthening Immunization of mother and child under the Expanded Program on Immunization.  There has been an increase in coverage of children vaccinated under Expanded Program on Immunization by 15-20 percent. Vaccine Logistics Management Information System VLMIS has been introduced. The entire supply and storage system has been certified by ISO as being in accordance with international best practices.

Pakistan has introduced ROTA virus vaccine with the support of GAVI in phased manner .To ensure equitable access to immunization, special emphasis will be given to reaching the underserved population through robust micro-planning and tailor made strategies such as engagement of Civil Society Organisations  and community workers for demand creation in low Immunization coverage and hard to reach areas.


She said Major reforms are being made to make affordable and quality drugs available to the masses. For the first time in Pakistan, we introduced a comprehensive and futuristic Drug Pricing Policy has been introduced eliminating all discretionary powers and also allowing for reduction in drugs prices. To fight the menace of substandard and spurious drugs, availability of generic drugs is being encouraged to provide an affordable alternative to the low income groups.


Pakistan is fully committed to implement the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) with specific reference to SDGs. In this connection, we are taking legislative, administrative and coordination measures to implement FCTC provisions.


She said in the end I would like to express gratitude to the Honourable President and to all dignitaries from EMRO countries for honouring us with their presence.