About the Author: Rick Snelsire serves as Spokesperson at U.S. Embassy Islamabad.
A delegation of U.S. officials visiting Islamabad for the Health track of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue called on Health Minister, Makdoom Shahabuddin on June 28 at the start of a meeting of Pakistani and U.S. officials to discuss the current state of Pakistan's health system.
This is the second Strategic Dialogue between the two countries on the topic of health, and underscores the U.S. commitment to a long-term partnership with Pakistan. The Minister emphasized that the partnership is based on the fundamental principle that health is a prerequisite for Pakistan's citizens to achieve their social, developmental, and economic goals. The U.S. delegation confirmed that the relationship between the United States and Pakistan has never been more important in our shared histories.
A key focus was the importance of Pakistan's National Health Policy, which outlines the priorities for the nation, that include family planning, maternal and child health, workforce development, infectious diseases in Pakistan, and meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
Representatives from the governments of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, Punjab and Sindh discussed their heath care priorities. The provinces highlighted their need for improved primary health care facilities, more female medical staffing, and better access to emergency care. In addition, the provinces spoke of their concerns about meeting family planning needs and expanding their programs for immunization, and infectious diseases -- specifically polio and hepatitis.
The Pakistan delegation was led by, Ms. Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Sector, and Secretary of Health Mr. Khushnood Lashari. The U.S. Delegation was led by Dr. Nils Daulaire, Director of Global Health Affairs for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Dr. Susan Brems, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Global Health at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
The two delegations have agreed to continue the Dialogue in Working Groups as a next step and the larger group would reconvene at a later stage to continue the efforts to work together on Pakistan's health priorities.