The landmark health cooperation declaration signed between Pakistan and Iran during the recent visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Tehran will help forge closer collaboration in moving towards the universal health coverage and fighting spread of communicable and non-communicable diseases, said Minister of State for National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza in a statement on Wednesday.Dr Mirza said as envisioned by Prime Minister Imran Khan, people of Pakistan and Iran, who share deep-rooted historical ties and cultural affinities, must come together to improve the lot of people of both the countries while learning from each other’s experiences in diverse fields. Uplifting primary healthcare is the answer to meeting myriad challenges in the health sector, the minister said, adding that the two countries can work in close collaboration towards strengthening this cause. He said Pakistan can benefit from Iranian experience in improvement of primary healthcare. Under the agreement, both sides have resolved to jointly fight cross-border transmission of communicable diseases, especially Congo fever, TB, HIV-AIDS, malaria, dengue and leishmaniasis. To this end, regular meetings of experts will be held in Quetta and Iranian city of Zahedan, said the minister.Recognising the importance of protecting mothers and children from preventable diseases, the two sides have resolved to work closely to strengthen routine immunisation. In this context, it was agreed to assign Iranian immunization technical team to Pakistan with a view to reviewing mechanism for mutual collaboration in improving routine immunization with special focus on measles and polio vaccination in border regions. A Pakistan technical team of experts in primary healthcare will visit Iran to study the performance with special focus on family medicine and services being provided by the community health workers. Bilateral meetings will also be held to share experiences of both the countries in the area of health insurance.Pakistan is currently implementing Sehat Sahulat Program under which cashless healthcare is being provided to the poor across the country, the minister said. “Pakistan and Iran have also agreed to initiate a joint project for strengthening of human resources in health sector, which is a major challenge in the country. The project will look at the distribution of health human resources in the deprived areas of the country,” he said, and added that a joint committee is being nominated to supervise and facilitate implementation of the bilateral agreement.