Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) promises in its manifesto 2013, on page 41, that at least 1,000 mobile health units will be launched to provide basic health facilities to remote areas and isolated localities.
In Pakistan, the health sector is in shambles due to lack of attention from previous elected governments.
A UNDP’s Human Development Report 2013 says that budgetary allocation for the health sector in Pakistan is one of the lowest among developing nations. The report ranks Pakistan at Number 146 out of 187 countries using the Human Development Index (HDI). According to the report, Pakistan spends only 0.8 percent of GDP on its health sector.
In a telephone interview with Truth Tracker, former Parliamentary Secretary for Health in Punjab and a PML-N Leader Dr. Saeed Elahi, said that the Provincial government launched the first mobile health unit in Daira Deen Panah village of district Muzaffargarh to help flood-affected inhabitants in 2010. He claimed the government was establishing six temporary mobile health units in remote areas of Southern Punjab. “All basic health facilities including free medicines, ultrasound tests, gynecology operation theaters, X-ray, lady health visitors (LHV), a dispensary, and male and female doctors were provided in those six mobile health units,” Elahi told Truth Tracker.
While talking about the mobile health units, Elahi emphasized that a meeting of health and provincial government officials would take place right after the presidential elections and that the project would begin soon.
It has been more than two months since Shahbaz Sharif was sworn in as new Punjab Chief Minister, but none of the top-notch leadership of PML-N had said anything about establishing those mobile health units. The fulfillment of the promise has not yet started.
In a phone interview, the Minister for Health of Punjab told Truth Tracker confidently that, “Our leadership would definitely launch mobile health units after presidential elections.”
On the other hand, when Truth Tracker contacted Punjab Health Secretary Hasan Iqbal, he was unaware of the mobile unit project. Iqbal said that he never knew the PML-N was promising any mobile health units in their manifesto. “There is no such plan for mobile health units to my knowledge and there is no work in progress on this project,” he said.
Central Spokesman of PML-Q Kamil Ali was of the view that the promise of setting up 1,000 mobile health units was just a political tactic prior to general elections 2013. “When basic health facilities are missing even in among the emergency units of tertiary care hospitals in the provincial capital, Lahore, how could one expect mobile health units from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in remote areas?” he asked.
In an interview with Truth Tracker, former Chief Executive of Shalimar Hospital Dr Rashid Ahmad said, “It is not possible for (the) government to set up hospitals everywhere. Mobile health units can really serve the masses but our country’s leadership lacks (the) political will to take such initiatives”.
“Health professionals, civil society and media would continue asking the government to establish mobile health units at earliest. Since in third world countries like Pakistan, there is no better way to provide modern, door-to-door health facilities in far flung areas except with such mobile health units,” Ahmad added.
Truth Tracker will keep monitoring the progress on this promise of mobile health units.