$62 mln allocated to improve health in war-torn Pakistani tribal areas

08:16, June 12, 2010      

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In a bid to improve health facilities in Pakistani tribal areas, the government of Pakistan has allocated 62 million U.S. dollars to establish an institution, the first of its kind, in the war-torn area, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) Secretariat information directorate told Xinhua on Friday.

In the Pakistani areas along Afghanistan's border also called Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), people have little access to quality education, health and other services.

The government wants to improve economic indicators in the tribal area devastated by militancy and fight against terrorism but most of the time it faces hurdles due to lack of education and other facilities in the area.

"Around 60 percent of the jobs created for women medical officers and health specialists are still lying vacant in different health facilities in the tribal region," said Dr. Fawad Khan, head of Health Directorate in FATA Secretariat.

Such restrictions could mostly be attributed to factors such as lack of locally trained staff as Health Directorate of FATA Secretariat has to mobilize reluctant staff from other districts, Khan added.

In order to provide indigenous professional medical education and to counter restricted access to such services, the FATA Secretariat decided to establish a state-of-the-art FATA Institute of Medical Sciences (FIMS) at a total cost of 62 million dollars, said the information directorate.

The mega initiative comprises a medical college and allied training institutes which would produce a trained and competent pool of doctors and paramedics to meet the present and future needs of the healthcare facilities located all over the FATA including South Waziristan, North Waziristan.

According to Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) carried out by the FATA Secretariat in association with the Federal Bureau of Statistics and UNICEF, there has been an acute shortage of doctors in general, and specialists, lady doctors in particular.

Local sources told Xinhua that under the directives of the federal government, the Higher Education Commission was tasked to facilitate the establishment of the medical institution in two phases.

With the recent improvement in the overall situation, in the context of prevalent law and order, the project could be carried out for long-standing demands of the aspiring medical students and quality healthcare seekers hailing from FATA, according to the FATA Secretariat.

Pointing to stark inequalities between the healthcare systems in tribal areas and settled areas of the country, the government pushed through a move to redesign and reform the healthcare structure in FATA to bring it at par with the rest of the country.

The area became a stronghold of militants and Pakistani government has launched series of operations in the area.



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