Second Think Tanks’ Moot: Collective Thinking, Collective Action

PRESS RELEASE: In continuation of the 1st Think Tank Moot organized by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), the 2nd Think Tank Moot with a focus on Healthcare Financing was organized by Health Services Academy (HSA), Islamabad. The purpose of this meeting is to convene stakeholders from various think tanks, government organizations, and universities, fostering collaboration to generate innovative ideas for enhancing the healthcare sector in Pakistan.

The event was attended by Prof. Dr. Shahzad Ali Khan (Vice Chancellor HSA), Dr. Nadeem ul Haque (Vice Chancellor PIDE), Dr. Mahesh Kumar Malani (State Minister, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination), Mr. Muhammad Arshad (CEO, Sehat Sahulat Program), and representatives of several departments including NIPS, TABADLab, CERP, SDPI, and ISSI. Representatives from different universities also participated in the event including Bahria University, COMSATS University Islamabad, Mohi-Uddin Islamic University, FUUAST, and PMAS Arid Agriculture University.

The event commenced with the recitation of the Holy Quran and the rendition of the National Anthem. Following that, the Vice-Chancellor of the Health Services Academy (HSA) extended a warm welcome to all the participants and provided an overview of HSA’s contributions in the field of healthcare financing. The program then proceeded with a series of informative presentations on various topics, including the status of healthcare financing in Pakistan, Public Finance Management, Strategic Purchasing, and Social Health Protection in Pakistan.

Dr. Malani expressed gratitude to Dr. Shahzad for hosting the event and emphasized that the correlation between multiple departments and the obstacles in implementing health programs are significant challenges. He further highlighted the issue of inadequate human workforce, particularly in rural areas. According to Dr. Nadeem ul Haque, Vice Chancellor PIDE, the presence of 300 universities and 100 think tanks should ideally lead to original and innovative ideas. However, he expressed concern that the current practice involves copying ideas from donors, which is not conducive to the national economy. He further highlighted that the country’s growth numbers have become negative for the first time, indicating a challenging situation.

Dr. Tariq Ali, Registrar of HSA, provided an overview of the Health Care Financing situation in Pakistan. He highlighted that the public sector plays a significant role in healthcare financing, mainly through government budgets and subsidies. However, it was emphasized that the allocated funds for healthcare are inadequate, resulting in resource limitations and limited-service coverage. It was further mentioned that out of the total health expenditure, 59.4% is covered by the private sector, 40% by the public sector, and 0.6% by donor agencies.

In concluding the session, several key points have emerged from our fruitful discussions. Firstly, Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is vital for ensuring the sustainability of healthcare services, as the government alone cannot provide all necessary facilities. It is crucial to establish effective monitoring and accountability mechanisms for these PPPs. Secondly, there is a pressing need to address the growing demand for healthcare services and prioritize strategies to meet this demand. Lastly, while budget allocation is important, the main challenge lies in the proper utilization of allocated resources.

Moreover, we do not have a health policy in Pakistan. There is a need to address the duplication of programs and ensure better alignment, monitoring, and accountability. There is a need for the establishment of a regulatory framework and an insuring market. It is essential to develop a framework that ensures the autonomy of private hospitals and addresses the distribution of finances. It is necessary to develop a market that enables the effective implementation of the co-payment formula. The event ended with a commitment from all participants to share their thoughts and ideas via email, towards the development of a policy document that reflects a collective resolution.

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