The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved $258 million for the National Health Support Program (NHSP) to strengthen primary health care systems and to accelerate national efforts toward universal health coverage in Pakistan.
The program complements ongoing investments in human capital and builds on health reforms that aim to improve quality and equitable access to healthcare services, especially in communities lagging behind national and regional-level health outcomes.
The World Bank Country Director for Pakistan Najy Benhassine said “Pakistan continues to make strides in health reforms toward ensuring access to primary healthcare services, especially for children and women during pregnancy and childbirth”.
“By strengthening provincial health systems, this program is foundational to building the country’s human capital and improving health and nutrition outcomes for its citizens,” he added.
The HNSP will focus on healthcare reforms across three main areas; Healthcare coverage and quality of essential services to ensure adequate staffing, supplies, and medicines, and enhance patient referral systems to expedite emergency and higher-level care.
Governance and accountability to strengthen oversight and management of primary healthcare services through real-time monitoring of supplies and essential medicines. This includes a central information platform for provincial authorities to assess the gaps in service delivery across public and private healthcare facilities.
Healthcare financing to improve the financial management of primary healthcare centers for better expenditure tracking and budget forecasting to sustain quality healthcare services and delivery.
The Task Team Leader for the NHSP Hnin Hnin Pyne stated that it “creates a national forum for the federal and provincial governments to exchange lessons and collaborate on achieving sustainable health financing and high quality and coverage of essential services”.
“It also helps strengthen engagement between public and private facilities and better coordination among development partners on future investments in health,” he said.
The program will benefit all communities through improvements to provincial primary health care systems, particularly in approximately 20 districts that have the least access to health and nutrition services.
The NHSP is co-financed by the International Development Association ($258 million) and two grants ($82 million) from the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children and Adolescents (GFF), including a $40 million grant for the protection of essential health services amid multiple global crises.
The GFF’s Head of Secretariat Monique Vledder said “The partnership between the GFF and the government of Pakistan focuses on building sustainable health systems while ensuring that all women, children, and adolescents, especially in the most vulnerable communities can access the services they need amid multiple crises”.
She continued, “By investing in primary health care, strengthening the health workforce and equipping community health centers to both respond to emergencies and deliver quality services, Pakistan can drive a more equitable and resilient recovery”.