Punjab govt, Novartis sign MoU to provide free medicines to 350,000 patients suffering from four diseases

APP34-11 LAHORE: November 11 - Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif witnessing the signing of MOU between Punjab government and Novartis. APP

LAHORE, Nov 11 (APP): A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the Punjab government and international
pharmaceutical organization Novartis Pharma Pakistan under which free medicines will be provided to patients suffering from four diseases of at the cost of diabetes, heart diseases, breast cancer and respiratory.
Free medicines of Rs 6 billion will be provided to some 350,000 patients under the agreement while Novartis Pharma will charge only 1$ per patient to the Punjab government.
The MoU signing ceremony was held here at Model Town here, where Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif was guest of honuor. Punjab’s Secretary Medical Education & Special Healthcare Najam Shah and Country President of Novartis Pharma Pakistan Shahab Rizvi signed the MoU.
Talking to media persons after the MoU signing, the chief minister said under the agreement, initially 350,000 patients suffering from diabetes, heart diseases, breast cancer and respiratory disorder would get free treatment, and later its scope would be extended so that more and more patients could be given free medicines. Soon around 1.2 million patients would be benefitting from the programme, he added.
He said the agreement reflected the vision of the Punjab government under which best medical facilities were
being provided to the ailing humanity. The government had taken considerable measures to improve medical services in hospitals, he added.
The chief minister said Mrs Deborah Gildea, head of the Novartis Asia, had praised the vision of Punjab government noting that splendid work had been done in health sector in the province and pledged to further promote cooperation.
This was surely a compliment for the performance of the entire team of Punjab government, he added.
He said that the Punjab government and Novartis had taken a big step for serving the humankind for which he congratulated the Punjab government’s team, Novartis officials and the patients who would benefit from the
Answering to a query, the chief minister said medicines were being given by Novartis unconditionally without any political condition or ‘do more’ demand attached to it. The step had been taken purely for humanity and, that spirit and determination should be promoted.
Replying to to another question, the chief minister said the Punjab government always cooperated with other provinces in various fields and it would continue to do so.
He said those demanding early election did not want the poor people to get free medicines and the Orange Line Metro Train to operate in Lahore. Once those people were calling the metro-bus as ‘Jangla bus’, but now themselves were trying to launch the project in Peshawar, however, they were well aware of the fact that they were incapable of completing it and that was why they were trying to hinder the Metro Line plans in Lahore too, he added.
To a question, Shehbaz Sharif said the Punjab government was striving to provide quality medical facilities to common people. CT scan machines were being installed in all the district headquarters hospitals, which would provide round the clock scanning facility to the patients.
He said Japan’s leading company, Hitachi, had got the tender for provision of CT scan machines through a transparent procedure. The poor patients would have free of charge CT scan. It was a new Pakistan. “The change that we have brought in Punjab. We do not make claims, but we deliver and where there is a mistake, we seek apology. We serve the public by virtue of our performance with honesty, trust and hard work,” he added.
He unfortunately, billions of rupees were looted in the past in the name of procurement of hospital machinery, but the current Punjab government had done away with that practices. “Now the manufacturers are installing their CT
scan machines and they will run the same themselves.”
Responding a question, he said the Punjab government had purchased medicines worth of 6 billion rupees in the current financial year. Samples of some medicines were examined by world-renowned laboratories, of those, 73 sample reports had been received maintaining the quality of medicines 100 percent accurate. Similarly, samples of those medicines were also tested in the drug test labs in Lahore and they also got 100 percent accurate result.
He said 33 percent of the medicines, which were tested abroad last year, were found sub-standard whereas Lahore’s Drug Testing Lab had marked them 99% at that time. With the grace of Allah Almighty and hard work of health team of the Punjab government the standard of Lahore’s Drug Testing Lab had been improved, he added.
The chief minister said those involved in supplying spurious drug were the greatest enemy of humanity and the Punjab government had nipped their evil in the bud by barring business of counterfeit drugs. The elements involved in the illegal transplanting of kidneys and other organisms would be dealt with strict disciplinary actions.
To another question, he said they would opt for holding public gatherings, but they would not tell lies or take U-turns.
“We will neither hurl baseless allegations nor hinder voyage of development but we will approach public on
the basis of our own performance”, he added.
Provincial ministers Khawaja Salman Rafique, Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, Khawaja Imran Nazir, Member National Assembly Dr. Ramesh Kumar, Chief Secretary, Chairman Planning and Development and high officials of Novartis Pharma were also present.