During the next three years, 1,0250 number of loans amounting to Rs 5.6 billion will be disbursed among MBBS, Bachelor of Dental Surgery, pharmacists, paramedics, homeopaths, hakims and physiotherapists to set up their own enterprises. This was announced by Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid during a meeting on strengthening of Punjab Health Foundation (PHF) on Wednesday. She approved a comprehensive plan for distribution of interest free loans for professionals of various categories of health sector. PHF Managing Director Ajmal Bhatti briefed the minister about a number of schemes launched by PHF in recent years. The minister directed to establish an Entrepreneur Development & Counseling Cell (EDCC) in PHF for assessing feasibility of business proposals seeking loans from PHF in the categories ie home care medical services, health fitness clinics, dietitian and nutritionist clinics, supporting psychologist clinics, supporting medical laboratories etc. The health minister expressed her deep satisfaction over the objectives of PHF and praised PHF MD Ajmal Bhatti for his hard work and commitment. “I am very impressed by the features and plans of PHF. PHF was planning to disburse loans ranging from Rs 300,000 to Rs 2,500,000 and this would help in creating more than 100,000 job opportunities,” she said. The PHF MD informed the meeting that PHF will disseminate relevant information through road shows proposed to be held in four major cities of Punjab ie Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan and Faisalabad. Approval was given to conduct the first road show in Lahore by the end of October. He also told that online registration was must for submitting application for loans. The minister also underscored the need of provision of health related activities in underprivileged and backward areas of Punjab with special focus on southern Punjab for uplifting the standard of health care delivery in these areas. “PHF focusing on disbursement of loans particularly in rural areas and establishment of entrepreneur at backward areas would be encouraged,” Dr Yasmin Rashid said. The minister ensured that Punjab government will financially support the proposed projects and approval was also granted to approach international donor organisations like the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Department For International Development and the Asian Development Bank for bridging financial gaps in the form of grants. It was decided that accreditations for PHF funded clinics/projects such as home care clinics will be ensured from proper forum to ensure maintenance of standard of health care delivery. Published in Daily Times, October 11th 2018.