Special Assistant on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza has said the federal health spending will see an increase of three times during the current fiscal year.
In an exclusive interview with News and Current Affairs Channel of Radio Pakistan in connection with World Hepatitis Day on Sunday, he said approval has been given in the budget that the revenue collected from the excise duty imposed on tobacco and beverages will be spent on the health sector.
The special assistant said enhanced taxation on cigarettes will also discourage use of smoking.
He said this experience has proved to be very successful in many other countries.
He said he also desires to introduce plain cigarette packaging without any nomenclature which, he said, will also have an impact on the smoking.
Giving an overview of the country's overall health infrastructure, Dr Zafar Mirza regretted that the primary healthcare system was totally neglected over the last seventy years.
The policy of constructing only big hospitals failed to cater to the rising population.
He said increase in infant and maternal mortality rate as well as the spread of other diseases including hepatitis, HIV/AIDs and tuberculosis is the consequence of the negligence meted out to the primary healthcare and public health in the past.
He, however, said that the vision of present government is totally different from the previous regimes as it believes in establishing a truly welfare state where people have equal access to opportunities and services including the health.
Dr Zafar Mirza said we have done a comprehensive planning to totally transform the healthcare system in the areas falling under the jurisdiction of the federal government.
He said under this programme, health services will also be provided in the schools.
When asked about the prevalence of polio virus, the special assistant said that Pakistan has gone a long way in bringing down the polio cases. He said an effort has been made to further strengthen the polio eradication programme.
We are bringing changes in the programme to plug the gaps that resulted in the increase of polio cases this year. He announced that a robust anti polio campaign will be started by the end of this year and the results of this campaign will be visible next year. He was confident that the country will be made polio free in the next two to three years.
When his attention was drawn towards the recent UN reports about 13 percent prevalence of HIV/AIDs in Pakistan, the special assistant on National Health Services strongly refuted the figure saying the prevalence rate in Pakistan is very low.
Dr Zafar Mirza said the federal government reached out to the Sindh government to help it deal with the outbreak of HIV/AIDs in Larkana. We provided the province with medicines and the necessary kits to diagnose the disease.
He said special measures are being taken to check the spread of this disease. We are bringing a law to do away with the use of disposal syringes. An auto-destruct syringe will be introduced in its place which can be used only once.
The special assistant stressed the need for preventive measures in order to combat the diseases. In connection with the Hepatitis Day being observed today, he said lives of millions of people can be saved only through preventive measures.
The audio and video recording of interview will be available at web site after 1900 hrs today ( Sunday).