Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar Wednesday said that the efforts were underway to expand the scope and scale of Ehsaas Tahafuz, Pakistan’s first shock-oriented safety net this year.
The programme is fully functional in Holy Family Hospital, Rawalpindi and will be expanded this year based on lessons of the recently concluded pilot.
She was speaking at the high-level global talk show hosted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to mark World Hepatitis Day.
The theme of World Hepatitis Day this year was “Hepatitis can’t wait” conveying the urgency of efforts needed to eliminate hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.
Speaking in the panel alongside the WHO’s senior leadership, Dr Sania reflected on the lessons learned from the innovations developed under the government of Pakistan’s Ehsaas Tahafuz programme.
She added, “Tahafuz is revealing the best results. This innovative fund-based programme of health financing is contributing towards universal health coverage (UHC) in Pakistan, a policy priority of our government to build back better, in a post COVID-19 context.”
Reflecting on the Tahafuz progress, Dr Sania said, “In total 612 deserving patients have been served, so far. Deserving Cirrhotic patients and those with hepatitis complications have also been supported under Tahafuz.”
Currently, the programme is patient centric, she continued, and caters to one-time high health costs for those who lack ability to bear the heavy expenditures.
The programme will serve as a one-window and web-based precision safety net across the country.
Dr Sania also highlighted the government of Pakistan’s efforts towards combating viral hepatitis.
The global talk show provided a platform for global, regional and national leaders, policy makers, communities and other stakeholders to discuss opportunities for accelerating the hepatitis response to achieve elimination by 2030.
Contributions and stories from countries from different WHO regions were showcased at the event. Alongside Dr Sania, other panelists were as follows: Dr Hala Zayed, Minister of Health and Population, Egypt; Dr Enkhbold Sereejav, Minister of Health Mongolia; and Arnaldo Medeiros, Vice-Minister for Health Surveillance at the Ministry of Health, Brazil.
The talk was opened by WHO Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General; Dr Carissa Etienne, WHO Regional Director for the American/Pan American Sanitary Bureau; Dr Meg Doherty, Director Global HIV, Hepatitis and STIs Programmes; and Dr Ren Minghui, Assistant Director-General Universal Health Coverage Communicable and Noncommunicable Diseases (WHO). The discussion was moderated by Dr Meg Doherty, Director, Department of Global HIV, Hepatitis and STIs Programmes (HHS) and Dr Funmi Lesi – Hepatitis Lead, WHO.
The event was attended by policy makers, community and other leaders, hepatitis partners and stakeholder, clinicians, researchers, nurses, the medical community and the private sector, WHO staff from three levels of organization, UN and other partner organisations, civil society and all members of the affected communities and populations.