RAWALPINDI, Jan 14 (APP):President Dr Arif Alvi Monday highlighted the importance of provision of quality healthcare services and adequate educational facilities and observed that these two sectors were the most significant for taking the country on the path of progress and prosperity.
He also called upon the private sector to come forward and play its role in the provision of healthcare facilities as throughout the globe, the private sector had assumed greater proportions in the healthcare sector.The President was addressing 2nd Roadshow titled “Investing in human capital through health initiatives,”. The Roadshow was arranged by the Punjab Health Foundation to highlight its ambitious project of extending interest free loans in the health sector which also aimed at creation of 100,000 jobs.
	The public sector could not perform in the health sector alone, he added and stressed for strengthening the role of private sector. 
	The President also emphasized upon creating comprehensive public awareness about the Punjab government’s initiative through provision of interest free loans to the people associated with the medical profession.
	He noted that telemedicine services (the use of modern telecommunications technology for remote diagnosis and treatment of patients), were also playing key role in the health sector and stressed upon the private sector to adopt these practices.
	Appreciating the Punjab government’s roadshow initiative, he called upon the medical practitioners to fully avail of this opportunity as it would also add to the indirect jobs creation.
	He also expressed his satisfaction that return rate of the loans extended so far stood around 97 per cent which was highly encouraging. 
	Pulling out the people from extreme poverty and unemployment, he said, the greater need should be focused on health and education sectors, and referred to the Chinese initiative of taking out a huge chunk of its population out of the poverty trap in a decade.
	He also lauded the health insurance cards project which would provide relief to the poor segments of the society.
	The society had also been facing two conflicting issues in the health sector, on one hand, a portion of population had been becoming obese while other segment was facing malnutrition and stunted growth issues, he added.
	The President stressed upon awareness about the health fitness by avoiding the unhealthy trends and appreciated levy of tax by the government on cigarettes and carbonated drinks to discourage the unhealthy trends.
	He also called upon the people to promote breastfeeding of the newborns, so that the coming generations might not suffer from stunted growth.
	Minister of National Health, Regulations and Coordination Aamer Mehmood Kiani, on the occasion, said the health had never been the priority area of the previous governments as it showed meager 9 per cent of the GDP in the past, but the PTI government was striving to change it.
	He announced that by the end of January, the process for the issuance of health cards would take place which would benefit around 15 million to 20 million population.
	The nursing sector also faced shortage as by 2030, the country would require services of about 1 million nurses, he added.
	The minister said the government was establishing a nursing university in Islamabad besides, construction of three hospitals. The PMDC was being restructured while DRAP was revamped. He also lauded steps taken by the Chief Justice of Pakistan.
	About the raise in medicines prices, the minister said it was the long standing demand of the pharmaceutical companies who were under immense pressure due to dollar price hike. 
	He maintained that the government was providing free of cost medicines to the patients in the hospitals.
	Punjab minister for Health Dr Yasmeen Rashid said the province had the huge population which also required attention of the private sector in health.
	She said by the end of five years, the initiative would create 100,000 jobs.
	Punjab Health Foundation Dr Amjad Bhatti and Secretary Specialized Healthcare and Medical Education (SH&ME) Saqib Zafar also addressed the ceremony. They said 45 more associated sectors were also being facilitated with the loan facility. Applicants could apply for a loan of around Rs 2 lac to Rs 3 million which could be returned back on easy installments.