Health reforms in Punjab are not a mere slogan but a reality

LONDON: Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif has said that Punjab government is working hard to revolutionized the public health sector in the province.Reforms in Punjab health sector are not just political slogan but a reality. Health sector of the province has the potential to attract the overseas Pakistanis investors.

He was speaking at an event titled ‘New Horizons of Partnership with Government of Punjab’ organised by Pakistan High Commission in association with the Punjab health department.

The event was organised to give professionals a broad overview of the health sector of Punjab, and inform them about the business opportunities existing for gainful investment in this domain and possibilities of forming win-win collaborations with the provincial government.

Shehbaz Sharif told the audience that he felt privileged to be serving 111 million people across the province with world class health standards.

“We have gathered here today for a larger cause; the cause of serving the suffering humanity and putting the patient care on the top of our preferences. It is this feeling of empathy embedded in our deep ethos of sharing the hardships of the poorest of the poor that has brought us together. All of us go through sobering and may I add defining moments in our lives that help us look at the world around us differently than what we used to do. Such phases are instructive in nature that change the paradigm shift and make us develop new perspectives of life. They make us wiser, more humble and enable us to connect to the reality of our existence,” he said

“My tryst with destiny came when I was diagnosed with cancer. As I fought this deadly disease over the years, whose mention is enough to cause a scar, I became deeply conscious of what ordinary folks have to bear when confronted with such health challenges.”

He told the audience that his own experience of the disease was a humbling one “which enabled me to put myself into the shoes of the less privileged; my journey of fighting cancer was a journey into my inner world; a journey towards discovering greater empathy and realisation of what a life is like for common people. It helped me recognize my core humanity and steeled my resolve to do something for the poor who suffer because they do not have enough to bear escalating health costs”.

Sharif said that Punjab has a population of 110 million and catering to demands of this burgeoning population is not an easy job. “Howsoever well-equipped the public health system can be, there is always room for improvement. Despite the best efforts the government is making and huge resources it is pumping in, the questions of quality, accessibility, regulation, monitoring and accountability stand out so far as the health sector is concerned. The provision of the quality healthcare to the poor and lower middle classes is a fundamental right. It is a question of building our future based on the sure footing of deep empathy, and a sense of togetherness.”

He told doctors that Punjab has successfully experimented with different hospital management models whereby the management of public sector hospitals has been handed over to trusts and that hospital ancillary services such as laundry, janitorial, hospital waste management are being outsourced.

The chief minister said that Punjab is the first province of Pakistan that has employed information technology at such a level to make health system more proficient and functional.

Speaking after the event, doctors said they were impressed by the vision of Shehbaz Sharif and his straight-forward talk. Many doctors said that there is no exaggeration in saying that Punjab is seeing a revolution in the making under Shehbaz Sharif as health sector development as well as developments in other areas are for all to see. They commented that progress in Punjab is not just a slogan but a reality and it’s clear that the province has made huge strides under Shehbaz Sharif.

They said there was a lot of way to go for Punjab government in making further progress but they said they witnessed during their own visits that there is no comparison of Punjab with any other province and credited Shehbaz Sharif for being the spirit behind real change and progress.

Several doctors said that they were impressed by the administrative skills of the chief minister in ensuring that business is done on time and no corruption is allowed at any level. Many of them said they have decided to work in collaboration with the provincial government to bring relief to the poor masses.

Over a hundred doctors and surgeons were in attendance, who spoke to the chief minister, asked him questions and also interacted with Punjab health officials from Lahore, who were connected throughout the event through video link.