Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services and Regulations has discussed at length ‘The compulsory vaccination and protection of health workers bill, 2019’ moved by Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq. The members supported the bill which was originally initiated in 2015 and passed unanimously by the Senate but was lapsed in the National Assembly. The Committee observed that admission in educational institutions should be linked with completing all the necessary vaccinations. The bill will be approved in the next meeting after incorporating any amendments from members or the government. Special Assistant to Prime Minister also supported the bill and agreed that stringent measures are needed to make the vaccination mandatory.
The meeting was held under the Chairmanship of Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh and was attended among others by Senators Ayesha Raza Farooq, Dr. Sikandar Mandhro, Usman Khan Kakar, Sardar Shafiq Tareen, Dr. Mehr Taj Roughani, Dr. Ghous Muhammad Niazi, Dilawar Khan, Javed Abbasi, Dr. Asad Ashraf, Sana Jamali, Special Assistant to Prime Minister for National Health Services and Regulations Dr. Zafar Mirza and officials from the ministry. The Committee as well as the government were together in observing that the polio eradication programme should be kept apolitical as it is a matter of country’s integrity and our future generations.
The Committee also discussed the matter of high charges of private hospitals and laborities and pathetic condition of public hospital in Islamabad by Senator Javed Abbasi. The Committee directed the ministry to look into the act and come up with its response in the next meeting so that work on making the authority functional can begin at the earliest.
The Committee was given details of the ministry’s Public Sector Development Programme projects for financial year 2019-20. It was told that the ministry has proposed a total of 64 schemes at a demand of 16.12 billion rupees. Out of these 21 are ongoing projects for 9.8 billion, 24 new schemes for 1.8 billion and 19 unapproved schemes for 4.4 billion. The Committee was told that for the financial year 2018-19 the ministry had proposed 35 projects and demanded an allocation of 18.4 billion but till May only 9.4 billion has been released. This state of affairs will make this year’s releases go to the next year. The special assistant and the Committee expressed dissatisfaction over the low amount of allocation and even low amount of releases. The special assistant said that it needs to be checked that the mistake is on part of this ministry or finance or planning. He observed that if health reform is a priority of the Prime Minister then the system has to support otherwise it will be just a shallow priority.
The Committee after discussing ‘The compulsory blood test of the spouses and proposed spouses for Thalassemia disease Bill, 2019’ approved it and referred it back to the House for passage. The Committee observed that implementation of this bill has continued to remain a problem in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh even after passage of bill but that shouldn’t stop the Senate to bring this law for ICT and ICT can serve as a good example for the rest of the country.
The matter of producing vaccines within the country, fulfilling WHO accreditation criteria and introducing joint ventures and public private partnerships was also discussed.