KARACHI: With enhancing human resources in existing public healthcare facilities, Pakistan could double public healthcare coverage, said health experts on Saturday. The need of the hour is for the government to put its act together, make a people-friendly health policy, increase the health budget, concentrate on preventive healthcare, eliminate corruption, honor merit and demonstrate a political will to address the issues of health on a priority basis, experts suggested on the occasion of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day. Universal Health Coverage Day, commemorated each year on 12 December, is the anniversary of the first unanimous United Nations resolution calling for countries to provide affordable, quality health care to every person, everywhere. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that all UN Member States have agreed to try to achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2030. This includes financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all. According to experts, Pakistan has around 32 per cent of public healthcare coverage. Rest of the population is forced to avail private healthcare facilities. “If government enhances human resources by stretching morning shifts to evening shifts in existing public healthcare facilities, the overall healthcare coverage could be doubled. All they do need is to hire medical staff for evening shifts,” Dr Suleman Otho, a public health physician told Daily Times. Pakistan carries a heavy burden of diseases because of the poor preventive as well as healthcare delivery system at the primary level and due to lack of awareness and ignorance about the diseases. Most diseases are preventable through vaccination /immunization or by way of simple awareness and the provision of some very basic facilities by the government. “By providing clean potable water and proper sanitation to the entire population, we can get rid of diseases like Diarrhea, Dysentery, Gastroenteritis, Typhoid, Hepatitis-A&E and many others,” said Dr S. M. Qaiser Sajjad, Secretary General Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Centre. According to Dr Sajjad, the fiscally-challenged country can save billions of rupees, which at present are consumed by the treatment of these very diseases. “An affective vaccination/immunization program, carried out with honesty, commitment and professionalism, can eradicate for many diseases like Polio, TB, Whooping Cough, Diphtheria, Measles, Smallpox, Hepatitis, Typhoid, Meningitis, Pneumonia, Mumps, Rubella, etc,” he added. Experts urged government to focus more on preventative healthcare. For instance non-communicable diseases have gone above to 50 per cent whereas communicable diseases are around 36 percent, they say. “Non-communicable diseases could be controlled through only changing your lifestyle. Besides that safe drinking water availability should be assured. Recently Pakistan has come on top in the rate of minors’ deaths in world which is mainly attributed to water-borne diseases,” Dr Otho added. There is also the need to improve mental health and education system by bringing hand-washing, personal health hygiene and reproductive health content in the syllabus, he opined.