Is Pakistan's Social Sector Progress Hopeless?

If you read Pakistan media headlines and donation-seeking NGOs and activists' reports these days, you'd conclude that the social sector situation is entirely hopeless. However, if you look at children's education and health trend lines based on data from credible international sources, you would feel a sense of optimism. This exercise gives new meaning to what former US President Bill Clinton has said: Follow the trend lines, not the headlines. Unlike the alarming headlines, the trend lines in Pakistan show rising school enrollment rates and declining infant mortality rates.

Key Social Indicators:

The quickest way to assess Pakistan's social sector progress is to look at two key indicators:  School enrollment rates and infant mortality. These basic social indicators capture the state of schooling, nutrition and health care. Pakistan is continuing to make slow but steady progress on both of these indicators. Anything that can be done to accelerate the pace will help Pakistan move up to higher levels as proposed by Dr. Hans Rosling and adopted by the United Nations.

Pakistan Children 5-16 In-Out of School. Source: Pak Alliance For Math & Science

Rising Primary Enrollment:

Gross enrollment in Pakistani primary schools exceeded 97% in 2016, up from 92% ten years ago. Gross enrollment rate (GER) is different from net enrollment rate (NER). The former refers to primary enrollment of all students of all ages while the latter counts enrolled students as percentage of students in the official primary age bracket. The primary NER in Pakistan is significantly lower but the higher GER indicates many of these kids eventually enroll in primary schools albeit at older ages. 

Source: World Bank Education Statistics

Declining Infant Mortality Rate: 

The infant mortality rate (IMR), defined as the number of deaths in children under 1 year of age per 1000 live births in the same year, is universally regarded as a highly sensitive (proxy) measure of population health.  A declining rate is an indication of improving health. IMR in Pakistan has declined from 86 in 1990-91 to 74 in 2012-13 and 62 in the latest survey in 2017-18.

Pakistan Child Mortality Rates. Source: PDHS 2017-18

During the 5 years immediately preceding the survey, the infant mortality rate (IMR) was 62 deaths per 1,000 live births. The child mortality rate was 13 deaths per 1,000 children surviving to age 12 months, while the overall under-5 mortality rate was 74 deaths per 1,000 live births. Eighty-four percent of all deaths among children under age 5 in Pakistan take place before a child’s first birthday, with 57% occurring during the first month of life (42 deaths per 1,000 live births).

Pakistan Human Development Trajectory 1990-2018.Source: Pakistan HDR 2019

Human Development Ranking:

It appears that improvements in education and health care indicators in Pakistan are slower than other countries in South Asia region. Pakistan's human development ranking plunged to 150 in 2018, down from 149 in 2017.

Expected Years of Schooling in Pakistan by Province 

There was a noticeable acceleration of human development in #Pakistan during Musharraf years. Pakistan HDI rose faster in 2000-2008 than in periods before and after. Pakistanis' income, education and life expectancy also rose faster than Bangladeshis' and Indians' in 2000-2008.

Now Pakistan is worse than Bangladesh at 136, India at 130 and Nepal at 149. The decade of democracy under Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) has produced the slowest annual human development growth rate in the last 30 years. The fastest growth in Pakistan human development was seen in 2000-2010, a decade dominated by President Musharraf's rule, according to the latest Human Development Report 2018.

UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) represents human progress in one indicator that combines information on people’s health, education and income.

Pakistan's Human Development Growth Rate By Decades. Source: HDR 2018

Pakistan saw average annual HDI (Human Development Index) growth rate of 1.08% in 1990-2000, 1.57% in 2000-2010 and 0.95% in 2010-2017, according to Human Development Indices and Indicators 2018 Statistical Update.  The fastest growth in Pakistan human development was seen in 2000-2010, a decade dominated by President Musharraf's rule, according to the latest Human Development Report 2018.

Pakistan Human Development Growth 1990-2018. Source: Pakistan HDR 2019

Pakistan@100: Shaping the Future:

Pakistani leaders should heed the recommendations of a recent report by the World Bank titled "Pakistan@100: Shaping the Future" regarding investments in the people. Here's a key excerpt of the World Bank report:

"Pakistan’s greatest asset is its people – a young population of 208 million. This large population can transform into a demographic dividend that drives economic growth. To achieve that, Pakistan must act fast and strategically to: i) manage population growth and improve maternal health, ii) improve early childhood development, focusing on nutrition and health, and iii) boost spending on education and skills for all, according to the report".

Pakistani Children 5-16 Currently Enrolled. Source: Pak Alliance For Math & Science


The state of Pakistan's social sector is not as dire as the headlines suggest. There's reason for optimism. Key indicators show that education and health care in Pakistan are improving but such improvements are slower than in other countries in South Asia region. Pakistan's human development ranking plunged to 150 in 2018, down from 149 in 2017. It is worse than Bangladesh at 136, India at 130 and Nepal at 149. The decade of democracy under Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) has produced the slowest annual human development growth rate in the last 30 years. The fastest growth in Pakistan human development was seen in 2000-2010, a decade dominated by President Musharraf's rule, according to the latest Human Development Report 2018. One of the biggest challenges facing the PTI government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan is to significantly accelerate human development rates in Pakistan.

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Riaz Haq said…
People Can Prosper And Thrive If Pakistan Reforms Faster

ISLAMABAD, March 18, 2019 – Pakistan urgently needs to invest more and better in its people if they are to be richer, better educated, and healthier when the country turns 100 years old in 2047, says a new report by the World Bank.

Launched today at the Human Capital Summit, the report, Pakistan@100: Shaping the Future, urges Pakistan to overcome its boom-bust cycles through a deep-rooted economic transformation. It recommends the essential reforms Pakistan needs now to accelerate and sustain growth. This means increasing and improving human capital investment, boosting productivity, promoting social and environmental sustainability, ensuring good governance, and leveraging its location to connect more with neighbors and the world beyond says the report.

“There are steps Pakistan can take today to boost its economic performance and thereby ensure a better future for its people,” says Hartwig Schafer, World Bank Vice President for South Asia. “These steps are ones that other countries have taken to open up their business sectors to competition and innovation and laying the foundations for growth, investment, and good jobs.”

The forward-looking report argues that Pakistan’s greatest asset is its people – a young population of 208 million. This large population can transform into a demographic dividend that drives economic growth. To achieve that, Pakistan must act fast and strategically to: i) manage population growth and improve maternal health, ii) improve early childhood development, focusing on nutrition and health, and iii) boost spending on education and skills for all, according to the report.

“Because the next generation is meeting only 40 percent of its potential it means that Pakistan is foregoing much of its economic growth, but this can change if women’s potential is unlocked,” says Annette Dixon, World Bank Vice President for Human Development. “When women and girls are empowered to make their own decisions, they stay in school longer, they start families a little later, have fewer children, contribute more to the economy, and invest more in their children. It’s a virtuous circle that’s good for families and good for the whole country.”
Riaz Haq said…
PM Imran Khan Focuses More On Attracting Investment In Social Sector Under CPEC

Prime Minister Imran Khan has focused more on attracting investment in the social sector within the framework of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which would directly benefit the people of Pakistan, Focal Person of Chief Minister of Balochistan's Task Force on Youth, Sustainable Development Goals, Naseem Khan Achakzai said on Tuesday.

"Within the CPEC project, the Chinese government is expected to help Pakistan build hospitals and schools. This is one of the Prime Minister's focuses, which will directly benefit the people of Pakistan," he said in an exclusive interview with Global Times during his visit to the Chinese capital city.

On the construction of Gwadar Port and other CPEC projects, he remarked that for the growth of CPEC, the Gwadar international airport will be built three years from now, so the port is now somehow operational. There have been housing entities coming to Gwadar.

Gwadar will have its new master plan as well. There's a lot of construction going on when it comes to development projects. Thanks to CPEC, a lot of people, mostly Pakistanis, are purchasing property, both residential and commercial, in Gwadar, he added He informed that there are military troops and the local police who are guarding CPEC projects. The port is not accessible to everyone, only relevant employees.

"It's well understood that the development of CPEC helps improve Pakistan's infrastructure and its economy. It's beneficial for neighboring countries such as Iran and Afghanistan as well. If all goes smoothly, Pakistan will be an even stronger player in the South Asian region,"� he added.

Naseem Achakzai said that increasing technology exchange is one of the important things that should be done. That can be best practiced in the agriculture sector, as Pakistan's economy is highly dependent on the agriculture sector.

It is hoped that there should be greater cooperation in the agricultural field between China and Pakistan for local farmers and landowners to have more produce. A lot of technology has been used in farming in China. The same can be replicated in Pakistan.

Pakistan, he said, also needs to focus even more on healthcare and education, and obviously under the umbrella would be needing further support in these sectors.

He said education and employment are directly interrelated in that improved vocational and technical training, in particular, could better prepare the local labor force for wide-ranging job opportunities enabled by CPEC.

As the project goes further, more jobs will be created and an increase in engineering and exchange in technical know-how will be expected, factoring into the vision that there will be industrial zones around the CPEC route, he added.

While dispelling undue fears over the flagship project, he said since the announcement of CPEC in 2013, the security situation in the whole of Balochistan has improved substantially. From 2013 to date, figures show there's been a rapid decrease in attacks and other target killings.

The Pakistani military has a special division assigned for the CPEC project, he added.

Naseem Achakzai said the stability in Gwadar and Balochistan is very important for CPEC, since Gwadar is the heart and soul of CPEC. After the attack, Pakistan has already been acting more against the terrorist groups.

At the end of March, the second international Gwadar expo was held in the port city, with many high-level Chinese and Pakistan officials attending the expo.


"Once there's heavy traffic coming on the main route, there are side links attached to it, initially giving a boost to local tourism and local businesses such as restaurants. Everybody is excited about it," he added.

Riaz Haq said…
Over 400,000 tourists visit Swat during Eid days

Over 400,000 tourists visited Swat and tens of thousands others turned up at other districts in the Malakand and Hazara divisions during the Eid holidays, officials told The News on Saturday.

The government made efforts to provide facilities to the tourists at the hill-stations in Malakand and Hazara divisions where Tourist Police have been launched and teams of other relevant departments deployed to facilitate the visitors.

“Apart from providing security at all the tourist points, police have been deployed since the first day of Eid to ensure smooth flow of traffic after receiving a huge number of tourists in Malakand division,” Regional Police Officer Mohammad Saeed Wazir told The News.

He added that around 197,000 vehicles bringing tourists entered Malakand division since the first day of Eidul Fitr. Swat received the highest number of tourists.

“From the first day of Eid, roughly 400,000 to 500,000 tourists have entered Swat to reach Kalam, Madyan, Bahrain, Malam Jabba and other scenic places,” District Police Officer of Swat Ashfaq Anwar, told The News. The official said a special traffic management system had been planned to ensure smooth flow of traffic.

“We have launched the Tourist Police that apart from managing traffic facilitated and helped the tourists. The visitors are being given special pamphlets and guidance by the Swat Police. All our senior and junior officials are on the road since Eid day,” said DPO Ashfaq Anwar. A large number of families from all over the country thronged Kalam, Madyan, Bahrain and Malam Jabba in Swat as well as Kumrat in Upper Dir and some scenic valleys in Chitral.

Tourists also flocked to Naran, Kaghan, Nathiagali, Siri Paye and other tourist destinations in Hazara division where police along with officials of other departments are on the road since Eid day to facilitate the guests. The cops are also helping the tourists to repair broken cars and bikes as well as getting food and water.

The access to Hazara has been made easy after the newly constructed Motorway from Hassanabdal while the under construction Swat Expressway was also opened for light vehicles during the Eid holidays. Thousands of vehicles entered Malakand division via the 81 kilometres long Swat Expressway.

The movement of traffic was slow while driving to tourist resorts, including Kalam, Malam Jabba and Miandam due to large number of vehicles and poor condition of the roads at various places.

Apart from the police and district administration, teams of the health department, civil defense as well as Rescue 1122 remained on the road in the tourist stations to provide treatment to the large number of visitors in case of an emergency.

The spokesman for the Rescue 1122, Bilal Ahmad Faizi said technicians in ambulances of 1122 have been providing emergency treatment to people at tourist stations in Malakand and Hazara divisions since the Eid day.

The government has opened a number of rest-houses in the two divisions where tourists are being provided better accommodation at reasonable rates.

The tourists complained that the local hotels were charging high rates at all the tourist stations after receiving such a large number of guests from all over the country.

The locals argue that the summer season is the only time to earn some money which they use throughout the year to support their families.
Riaz Haq said…
A #Library Thrives, Quietly, in One of #Pakistan’s #Gun Markets in #Tribal Area. The Darra Adam Khel Library, less than a year old and with more than 2,500 books, offers residents a respite from the #arms bazaar that dominates local life. #FATA #KP

It has even caught the attention of the market’s arms sellers. Noor Ahmad Malik, sitting inside his gun shop, has gotten interested in books about India and Pakistan and Islamic history, calling the library the “best thing that happened recently for the people here.”

Darra Adam Khel was under Taliban control for years until the Pakistani Army cleared it in 2010. Still, it has been regularly targeted by militants, including a suicide bombing in 2012 that killed 16 people, and mosque attacks in 2010 that killed more than 60. With a population of more than 100,000, it is still largely no-man’s land, where Pakistani law wasn’t applicable until the merger of tribal areas in the neighboring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province last year.

Now the military is helping Muhammad build a new library that can accommodate up to 65 people, seeing it as a way to help residents recover from years of traumatic violence.

“People are still reeling from the militancy, which has killed hundreds of civilians and soldiers,” said a government official serving in the area, who spoke on the condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to speak with the news media. “They are more prone to fear and stress, particularly among children, and now the availability of books is a good option for knowledge and education.”

In the nine months it has been open, it has drawn about 240 members, who pay 150 Pakistani rupees, about $1, a year. Thirty members are women, even though Darra Adam Khel is a conservative area where women are not allowed to go outside unaccompanied. They select books using the library’s Facebook page.

One of them is Shifa Raj, Muhammad’s 11-year-old daughter. A sixth grader and avid reader, she helps her father deliver books to the female members of the library.

“I told girls in the school that we have a library in our area: If you are interested, I will provide membership forms,” she said. “The response was remarkable.”

Muhammad considers the Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai “our pride,” for her efforts to champion education for girls and becoming the youngest Nobel Prize laureate.

“I was born here,” Muhammad said. “I want the world to remember Darra Adam Khel with a good reputation, not for guns but for the books.”

Riaz Haq said…
USAID funding construction of 112 schools in Sindh

SUKKUR: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Director for Sindh and Balochistan Michael Hryshchyshyn and Qazi Shahid Pervez, Secretary, School Education and Literacy Department, Government of Sindh inaugurated the recently completed school, Government Modern High School Sukkur, constructed with the USAID support.

Local notables, community elders, teachers, students, and parents were present on the occasion. The USAID funded new building of Government Modern High School Sukkur, was constructed at a cost of the $159.2 million. The USAID is assisting Sindh Basic Education Programme (SBEP), in partnership with the Government of Sindh.

Agha Fakhur Hussain, SBEP Programme Director, said the SBEP is a flagship partnership between the government of Sindh and the USAID. He said under the programme 112 schools would be constructed out of which 62 have been completed and 42 were handed over to the Education Management Organizations. The remaining 44 schools are in different stages of completion, he said.

The programme aims to increase and sustain student enrollment in primary, middle, and secondary public schools in select areas of Sindh, with a special focus on providing opportunity to children who have dropped out of school. In addition to constructing schools, SBEP also supports the government’s reforms in education, community mobilization, public-private partnerships, and improving reading competencies of students.
Riaz Haq said…
1 billion Dollar grant from China to fund social sector development projects under CPEC

After Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China and the 8th Joint Cooperation Committee meeting, socioeconomic development officially became part of the portfolio of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Now, a Chinese team is set to visit Pakistan this week to discuss various social sector projects in the country, which will be funded by a $1 billion Chinese grant. A priority list is expected to be shared by the Ministry of Planning with the Chinese team, after reviewing the proposals given by the provinces.

A team of Chinese experts is scheduled to visit Pakistan this week which is expected to announce and investment of over $1 billion in various social sector development projects in the country.

According to official sources, the Chinese experts will be evaluating a number of social sector projects being proposed by all the provinces including Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The ministry of Planning and Development, has already sought the proposals from the provinces for the Chinese grant.

“The ministry has started receiving list of the projects from provinces, which will be discussed and evaluated by both the Chinese and local experts. The $1 billion investment will be a grant from China under the multi-billion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC),” the sources said.

Ahead of the meeting with Chinese experts, the Ministry of Planning and Development is expected to hold a meeting with all stakeholders on Monday, February 25, to scrutinize the proposals made by provinces. A priority list of projects will later be shared with the Chinese team, which is expected to visit Pakistan from February 26.

“The Chinese team will also hold separate meetings with representatives of provinces and concerned officials to discuss the provincial priorities in the social sector. As announced earlier, the Chinese side will extend grant of over $1 billion for the selected social sector development projects,” sources said.

As CPEC progresses, Pakistan is looking to attract investment in agriculture and social sectors, diversifying away from the energy sector, in which China has already made substantial investment.

China’s Ambassador in Islamabad Yao Jing had earlier said that CPEC was a long-term project, adding that the five years of work done on CPEC, was just the start of the journey towards achieving socio-economic development in the region.

He said that China, in consultation with the Government of Pakistan, had decided to enter the next phase of CPEC which would focus on investment, joint ventures, establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), engagement in the power sector as well as export-oriented cooperation. The Chinese Ambassador said that the second area of focus for cooperation in the next phase of CPEC was the social sector and the areas identified were education, health, agriculture, poverty reduction and human resources.

According to officials at the Ministry of Planning, during the last Joint Coordination Committee of CPEC held in Beijing the two countries had agreed to work for speedy implementation of initiatives in already identified six areas including agriculture, education, medical treatment, poverty alleviation, water supply and vocational training projects.

During the next 5 years, small projects will be the focus of attention under the CPEC, which include renovation of schools, innovation in hospital system, poverty reduction, model villages and supply of clean water for the public.
Riaz Haq said…
Location:PakistanPart of:Department for International Development
Find out how the UK will respond to opportunities and challenges, what is being achieved for the UK and who we are working with.

Helping to ensure a prosperous and stable Pakistan is critical for the future of millions of poor Pakistanis, and the stability and security of both the region and the UK. Almost a third of Pakistan’s population lives in poverty (over 60 million people), with women most seriously affected. 22.6 million children do not go to school and half of the population, including two thirds of women, cannot read or write. One in 11 children die before their fifth birthday, every year 9,700 women die in childbirth and 44% of children under 5 are stunted. Pakistan’s population is set to grow by 40 million people in the next 15 years and the economy needs to grow by more than 7% a year to create jobs for this growing young population. There is major inequality based on geography, gender, ethnicity, disability and faith and a significant modern slavery problem amongst the poor, minorities, women and children. Pakistan carries a high risk of natural disasters; it has the second highest number of refugees in the world and continues to suffer from extremism and militancy. Consolidating the growing democracy and capacity of government institutions remains essential.
Riaz Haq said…
Dr Zafar Mirza, Fed #Health Minister, visits Getz #Pharma, #Pakistan’s only WHO-accredited pharmaceutical company, gets assurance that Getz Pharma would help address the problems of shortages of #medicines for the treatment of #HIV #AIDS

KARACHI: Dr Zafar Ullah Mirza, State Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC), visited the only pharmaceutical company in Pakistan, whose manufacturing facility has recently been prequalified and accredited by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Getz Pharma, is also the largest exporter of medicines from Pakistan. The company has been awarded the Prime Minister’s highest export trophy in the Pharmaceuticals category for the past 14 consecutive years.

During the nearly three hours visit, the minister toured and reviewed company’s Manufacturing/Production Facility, Quality Control laboratories, Stability Area, and Technical/ Utility Areas.

Dr Zafar Mirza, who has 15-years of experience of working with WHO, appreciated the high standards of production and quality assurance of the company and congratulated the management for obtaining both the WHO prequalification as well as the PIC/S accreditation and putting Pakistan on the map of the select few countries whose facilities and products are prequalified by WHO.

The minister discussed with the management how to improve the availability of the Essential Medicines in Pakistan in general and the local production for the treatment of HIV.

The CEO assured the minister that Getz Pharma would help address the problems of shortages of Essential Medicines, especially the medicines for the treatment of HIV.

Dr Zafar Mirza exchanged views on the issues facing the pharmaceutical sector and brainstormed ideas to boost exports of medicines. He reiterated that the government is keen to transform the health and pharmaceutical sector and increase the exports of medicines from Pakistan.

The minster urged the pharmaceutical companies to increase their exports.

The company’s management shared their plans to increase their exports in the next few years.
Riaz Haq said…
Amjad Ali, #Karachi rickshaw driver, father of six daughters sending them all to school in #Pakistan. One of his daughter Muskan just won a scholarship to study at top #business school. #education #highereducation

In a country where many women are still discouraged from getting an education and are married off early, Amjad Ali, a father of six daughters, and a rickshaw driver, has broken the mould by sending his daughters to Karachi’s leading universities, reports Samaa TV.

“People often mocked and criticised me, saying that girls are bound to get married and move out and to stop wasting my hard-earned money on my daughters,” he said.

But one of his daughters, Muskan, recently received a scholarship from the Institute of Business Administration, which is one of the top business schools in the country. “It was one of the happiest days of my life,” he said. “Be it a son or a daughter, the right to education is equal for all,” he believes.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistani #Punjab’s social sectors get lion’s share in Rs. 350 billion ADP (Annual Development Program). 35% of it will be apportioned for south Punjab under the regional equalization policy to accelerate development in less developed areas.

The PTI’s Punjab government on Friday announced its second budget improving the allocation for Annual Development Programme (ADP) 2019-20 to Rs350 billion from Rs238bn in the outgoing fiscal year.

Even this 47 per cent increase in the ADP fails to match the allocation of Rs635bn made by the Shahbaz Sharif government in 2017-18.

Presenting the budget in the Punjab Assembly on Friday, Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht said keeping in view of PTI’s stated priorities of social protection, human development and regional equalisation, a sum of Rs125bn, or 35.7pc of the total ADP, allocated for social sectors.

“Around 35pc of the ADP will be apportioned for south Punjab under the regional equalisation policy for bringing the less developed areas on a par with the developed ones,” he said.

Major initiatives in the ADP include expansion of health insurance scheme to all 36 districts, construction of four dams, taming of hill torrents at three sites, enhancing productivity of four main crops (wheat, rice, sugarcane, oilseed), establishment of four universities and 63 colleges, rural accessibility plan worth Rs15bn, infrastructure development of three large industrial estates, and setting up of model agriculture markets.

Among the social sector, education is the main beneficiary as a sum of Rs89.8bn has been earmarked for it, while health stands second with Rs47.5bn allowance. Water supply & sanitation will gain Rs22.4 billion, local governments Rs6.3bn, social welfare Rs1.0bn and women development Rs0.8bn.

The second major share of ADP goes to special initiatives with Rs65.35bn allocation. However, no explanation of the initiatives has been included in the budget documents.

Infrastructure development claims Rs87.7bn funds to stand at the third position. Of them roads construction will get Rs35bn, irrigation projects Rs23.4bn, urban development Rs13.5bn, public buildings Rs9.8bn, and energy Rs6.0bn.

Production sectors like agriculture, food, livestock, forestry and fisheries, industries, mines and minerals get Rs34.5bn. Of it an amount of Rs15.5bn is the share of agriculture, Rs7.5bn of industries and skills development, Rs3.4bn of forestry, Rs3.5bn for livestock & dairy development, and Rs1.5bn of tourism.

A sum of Rs20.6bn has been apportioned for services sectors. These included governance & IT (Rs6.0bn), labour and human resource development (Rs0.3bn), transport (Rs13.5bn), and emergency services (Rs0.8bn).

The Planning & Development Department and PSFP will get Rs14bn, environment and human rights Rs1bn each, information & culture and Auqaf Rs0.3bn each, and archaeology Rs0.35bn.

FOREIGN FUNDED: The ADP also includes 26 projects with foreign funding. The donors include the World Bank (12 projects), Asian Development Bank (three projects), DFID (three projects), and one each projects funded by AIIB, France, IFAD, Korea, China, and JICA.
Riaz Haq said…
Enough funds allocated for education sector in KP budget: minister

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Finance Taimoor Salim Jhagra on Monday informed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly that the government had allocated enough funds for the education sector in the budget.

He was responding to a point of order raised by Opposition Leader Akram Khan Durrani about cut in education budget. The minister also said that efforts were being made to improve the quality of education. Taimoor Jhagra added the provincial government had spent huge amount on providing facilities to the government schools across the province.

The minister said the government had planned to abolish 23 training centres for teachers in the province as these were not functioning properly in the past. He said the government had allocated extra budget for the training as qualified and well-trained teachers could impart quality education to students.

The minister informed the House that recruitment would be made in education, health and other departments through fair and transparent process. He said the government was not politicising the creation of jobs and posting and transfer in government departments.

Earlier, Opposition Leader Akram Khan Durrani said that he had learnt from officials concerned that the government had planned to close down 23 training centres for teachers He said the move would deprive the teacher community of training to improve their teaching skills.

The legislator also quoted a media report in the House that the government would not fill about 84,000 vacant posts in various government departments for next three years. "On the one hand the PTI leaders are claiming that the government will provide 10 million jobs to the youth but on the other it is not filling out the vacant posts," he said, adding that extension in retirement age of the government servants would cut new jobs.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's response to the #HIV outbreak in #Larkana has been fairly swift, involving various international agencies and provincial and federal governments. A new antiretroviral treatment (ART) clinic for children has been established in Larkana, #Sindh.

In 2018, a UNICEF report ranked Pakistan as the riskiest place to be born in the world. Numerous health indicators, particularly those related to maternal and child health, are worse in Pakistan than elsewhere in the south Asian region. Preventable communicable diseases remain a primary cause of morbidity and mortality in the country; a situation that can be attributed to many complex societal, political, and structural factors that lead to inadequate sanitation, unsafe drinking water, overcrowding, low socioeconomic status, and poor vaccination coverage. Health literacy is low and varies geographically and by sex: estimates from the country's 2017–18 Demographic and Health Survey suggest that as little as 32% of women and 67% of men in the country had ever heard of HIV/AIDS, with comprehensive knowledge of the disease limited to 4% and 10%, respectively. These findings are despite the Pakistani Government launching the NACP, an HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness programme, in 1986–87.
The reports of HIV epidemics in Pakistan linked to health providers (legitimate or not) have highlighted a potentially unappreciated source of the burden of bloodborne infections in the country, which has previously been attributed to transmission among the country's considerable population of injecting-drug users and sex workers. These reports are concerning for several reasons. First, they could indicate a worrying but potentially addressable knowledge gap in infection control processes and mechanisms of HIV transmission among health workers in Pakistan. Second, they could suggest a severe lapse in regulation of the country's health system, which allows people without appropriate training and certification to call themselves doctors. Third, they could lead to fear and mistrust of the health system, further exacerbating the country's health woes and putting health targets out of reach.

The response to the HIV outbreak in Larkana has been fairly swift, involving various international agencies and provincial and federal governments. A new antiretroviral treatment (ART) clinic for children has been established in Larkana, although how long these treatments will be available is unclear, with access to ART generally limited in the country. The UN in Pakistan is supporting the federal government to develop short-term and long-term plans for identifying and mitigating causes of the outbreak, including strengthening the continuum of care for HIV, promoting health education, and reducing stigma. However, it should not have taken this tragedy to spur action. The health authorities in Pakistan must at least now use it as a catalyst for change.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's swift response to #HIV led by World Health Organization, #Sindh #AIDS Control Program, Aga Khan University, the Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program, Dow Medical University in #Karachi, Microbiology Society of Infectious Disease.

UNAIDS is continuing its support to Pakistan in responding to the outbreak of HIV in Larkana, during which more than 800 people have been newly diagnosed with the virus. More than 80% of the new cases are among children aged under 15, with most among children aged under 5. By 17 June, 396 people had been referred to treatment.

At a press conference on June 14 the authorities presented the findings of a preliminary investigation into the outbreak. It concluded that poor infection control practices, including a lack of sterilization and the re-use of syringes and intravenous drips, are the most significant factors behind the rise in new infections.

“There is a huge amount of work that needs to be done to improve infection control and support the affected children and their families,” said UNAIDS regional director, Eamonn Murphy, during the press conference held in Karachi, Pakistan. “UNAIDS will continue to facilitate and coordinate within the United Nations system and with other partners to ensure that the required support is provided effectively and efficiently,” added Mr Murphy.

As well as improving infection control procedures, the preliminary investigation found that strengthening community education is critical to raise awareness about HIV prevention and to tackle stigma and discrimination. The conclusions of a rapid assessment on HIV-related knowledge presented at the press conference found that information about HIV is very limited among the affected communities. Many parents and caregivers learnt about HIV only on the day their children were diagnosed or because of media reports about the increase in cases. A lack of accurate information created panic and some families with children diagnosed with HIV have been shunned and isolated.

In response, UNAIDS in partnership with UNICEF, UNFPA, the World Health Organization and the JSI Research and Training Institute have been supporting national partners to develop a community response plan to promote health education and reduce stigma and discrimination. The Sindh AIDS Control Programme, together with UNAIDS and UNICEF, has started to train health workers on paediatric case management and health education sessions are being organized with the involvement of community led organizations and religious leaders. Training sessions for local media on responsible HIV reporting are also being carried out.

UNAIDS has been working closely with the federal and provincial governments to provide on-site technical support to help respond to the crisis and mitigate its impact. Sindh’s Ministry of Health has increased its efforts to prevent unlicensed and informal medical practices from operating and, as a result, 900 health clinics and unlicensed blood banks have been closed.

The preliminary investigation was led by the World Health Organization, in partnership with organizations including the Sindh AIDS Control Programme, Aga Khan University, the Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme, the Dow Medical University in Karachi, the Microbiology Society of Infectious Disease and UN agencies, including UNAIDS, UNICEF and UNFPA.

With 20 000 new HIV infections in 2017, Pakistan has the second fastest growing AIDS epidemic in the Asia Pacific region, with the virus disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable and marginalized, especially key populations. UNAIDS continues to work with the government and partners in Pakistan to strengthen the response in the country.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistani #education #startup SABAQ shortlisted for Siemens Foundation’s global award. The award recognizes and endorses low-cost #technologies providing vital services and solutions for daily needs in developing countries. #technology #Pakistan

From a pool of 800 submissions from 86 countries, SABAQ is the only Pakistani startup to be among the 11 finalists for the empowering people Award (epAward) 2019 by the Siemens Foundation. The startup will be competing with other finalists for the Top 3 spots in Cairo next month.

The award recognises and endorses low-cost technologies providing vital services and solutions for daily needs in developing regions. Projects submitted are examined on their technical functionality, local adaptability, social impact, team structure, and financial and business sustainability.

In the next round, the finalists will present their enterprise in front of a multi-disciplinary international jury panel and a relevant audience from the international and Egyptian ecosystem, pitching their business concept and impact.

The jury will determine the winners of the competition, announcing the first prize of 50,000 Euros, the second prize of 30,000 Euros and third prize for 20,000 Euros.

Additionally, the runners-up will be awarded 10,000 Euros each. A Special WASH Award of 20,000 Euros will also be awarded.

The Community Prize of 10,000 Euros will be given to the solution receiving maximum online votes. If you wish to vote for a project to help it win the Community Prize, click here.

.SABAQ's flagship application, Muse, has led to improved learning outcomes for several primary grade students. — Photo courtesy: SABAQ
“SABAQ is extremely honoured to represent Pakistan on this prestigious international platform. Previously this year, we were selected as the Top 6 Global EdTech startup at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai. We also took home the Transformers Roadshow Prize by the Islamic Development Bank in May. Now, being nominated for the Siemens Foundation global award greatly motivates us to continue our mission of revamping Pakistan’s education system and helping all children in Pakistan get access to quality education through our technology," SABAQ’s co-founder and CEO Hassan Bin Rizwan said.

"Our journey so far has been only been possible through hard work and an unwavering dedication to build a better future for our children. We now need the Pakistani community to come forward and vote for us in our mission of educating every Pakistani child,” he said.

Founded in 2015, SABAQ is an education technology initiative that has reached 100,000 children in low-cost and low resource environments till date.

Its flagship application, Muse, has led to improved learning outcomes for primary grade students.

Muse has also helped increase access to education technology for low-cost public and private schools in Pakistan, which are otherwise deprived of such resources.

To date, Muse has been used in 1,000 schools across Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said…
How EdTech is paving the Way for a Better Future
by Sami Mughal

Knowing that she couldn’t go to school was something that Asiya didn’t take lightly. It’s not that her parents didn’t want her to. It was just that they were far too scared for what may happen to her during the 3 km commute to the nearest school. And this is just one of the problems that are keeping millions of children out of school in Pakistan.

SABAQ, an award-winning EdTech initiative, is dealing with this problem head-on by leveraging technology and bringing the learning to children like Asiya. With its high-quality digital learning content that is fun and engaging, this innovative learning platform is increasing student engagement and improving learning outcomes through a model that is scalable and accessible to millions.

Partnering up with the National Rural Support Program, SABAQ identified communities where it set up SABAQ Centers, non-formal learning spaces where students are taught using the meraSABAQ Tab. This is SABAQ’s custom-made android tablet that features the meraSABAQ app for primary level, each containing digital learning resources for Urdu, Science and Math, developed in-house and aligned meticulously to the National Curriculum. In less than two years, after extensive research, the SABAQ model is one that delivers.

What is unique about the SABAQ model is the extent of community involvement to ensure ownership and subsequent sustainability. The spaces where SABAQ Centers open are donated by the community. The Facilitators managing and teaching at the Centers are recruited from the community. Even the Village Education Communities, who oversee Center operations, collect fee and monitor student performance are volunteer-run comprising of 10 community members.

The fee that the VECs collect are pooled together and spent at their discretion, like putting up solar panels or buying resources for the students.

So, at the end of the day, it is not just Asiya who has her life irrevocably changed after a SABAQ Center opened up in her tiny village. It’s the 21,000 children, enrolled in over 500 SABAQ Centers, who are, for the first time, on a path to discovering their potential. It’s the 500 communities that now boast a SABAQ Center, decorated with fervour to stand out. It’s the 630 men and women who’ve been trained to become Facilitators. At the end of the day, it’s a wonderful mix of technology, a desire to change things and exceptional community spirit that is paving the way towards a better future.
Naveed S. said…
I encourage you to study the UWR (United We Reach) System. It is probably the best holistic approach to primary education. It takes care of improving curriculum, teacher training, teaching support, assessments, remedial, analytics, monitoring and is based on STEM and delivered to poor Govt/private school students.

I am part of the team that developed that System, we have invested $7-8m of our money to develop the system after researching literally 100’s of systems world wide.

We are giving that system to Pakistani (and eventually worldwide) kids for free and we continue to invest millions per year to improve it.

I led the software effort.
I mostly contributed to AI and data analytics part of it.

Overall team size is 125 people, 30 of those are teachers in silicon valley. 45 are software in Lahore, others are school Operation, Logistics, Business Development etc.

The goal is make a massive scale effort to improve Govt schools, poor private schools.

Tablets that we use are designed by us to be lowest cost in the world. Our 7 in tablet cost $27 and 10 in tablet is $57. We have a world class expert in LA chapter who helped us to lower these costs.

I encourage you to learn more about the System and not base your opinion on one article.

Article is written by a very young, bright rising star in pskistan. He worked in uwr for sometime.

Finally, we are charity hence all of us work for free for this organization to betterment of Pakistani kids. We dont make any money, so I don’t know why you got an idea of corruption.
Naveed S. said…
Another important point is transparency - in all of our schools, we know when classes start/end?, which teachers showed up ? what was taught?, who attended or missed ?, what was learned?, etc

We don’t have depend on Govt or any other agencies to collect and report data. We know the data!

This data will ensure that we/govt can no longer lie about the state of our education. Honestly accepting the facts is the only way we will improve.

In our existing schools, we get enormous of data per day. We analyze the data in our data center and give feedback to teachers, students, administrators, Govt and parents.
This has made a huge difference.

We have discovered facts - which are unknown to academic community, since such data collection has never been done even in USA.

For example, we have learned that 6 minute review of lesson plan by a teacher a day before the class can lead to 15-20% improvement in student SLOs. While conclusion is obvious, the statistical data and its range was not known (or published).

Since we know if a teacher has reviewed the lesson plan or not, we already know that students SLO performance will be low or high.

We have also discovered the impact of asking questions in an assessment in a certain order. If you ask the harder question first, as opposed to easier questions first, students perform differently.

We are also looking at gender, economic background, etc differences and are there any statistically significant trends.
Riaz Haq said…
Every third child is underweight in Pakistan: survey

The National Nutrition Survey 2018-19 has painted a bleak picture of children’s health, stating that “every third child” in the country “is underweight”.

The survey was released on Monday during a ceremony chaired by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza and attended by Health Secretary Zahid Saeed, National AIDS Control Programme Manager Dr Basir Achakzai, Unicef representative and others.

The survey was compiled by experts working under the auspices of the Ministry of Health and Unicef.

The report stated, “Breast-feeding has increased in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), while malnutrition in Balochistan and erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).”

It stated, “Every four out of 10 children are malnourished. Over 40% children are affected by malnutrition in which the number of girls is higher than that of boys.”

Giving the break-up of the malnourished children, the report stated, “In the country, 40.9% boys are malnourished, while 39.4% girls are victims of malnutrition and 28% are underweight.

“Over 9% children are overweight. During the last seven years, the number of overweight children has doubled as in 2011 only 5% children were overweight while now the ratio stands at 9.5%. About 50% girls in Pakistan suffer from anemia while 48.4 % children are given mother’s milk. The ratio of children being fed mother’s milk stands at over 60% in K-P.

“In Pakistan, 36.9% of the population face malnutrition. In Balochistan, 50% people are malnourished while in erstwhile Fata the ratio is 54.6%.”

Addressing the ceremony, Health Adviser Dr Zafar Mirza said, “In line with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Ministry of Health is taking drastic measures to overcome malnutrition.”
Mirza said, “The data obtained from the survey will help in policy making and devising strategies.”

He said they would join hands with the provinces in taking effective steps in the field of nutrition in light of the data obtained.

“The incumbent government has already decided to tackle the biggest issue – undernourishment, especially in women and children,” said the PM’s aide, adding that the national survey had revealed that 40% children under the age of five were victims of stunting.

Mirza acknowledged the fact that positive signs regarding more women feeding their milk to their newborns were received. “About 10% improvement has been recorded in mothers feeding their children their own milk.”

Mirza said, “The ratio of people consuming clean water has increased, whereas only 21% water has been found fit for consumption.”
He said information and steps regarding women giving birth had improved. “About 63% women come to clinics when they are pregnant, while 68% avail the expertise of experts, which has reduced the ratio of death among newborns,” said Mirza.

About anemia, Mirza said, “Several women and children suffer from this condition. It has been reported that over 50% children suffer from anemia, while 62% lack Vitamin A.”

He said that there had been an increase in the consumption of iodine salt, which “is a positive sign”.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's #EdTech #startup "Dot and Line" raises six-figure seed for its #tech-based network of female tutors. via @MENAbytes

Karachi-based edtech startup ‘Dot and Line’ has raised six-figure (US Dollar) seed funding from Pakistan’s leading VC Sarmayacar, the investor announced yesterday without disclosing the exact size of deal. The round was also joined by Silicon Valley-based private investor and technology industry veteran Hasan Rizvi, former Executive Vice President of Oracle in California.

Founded in 2015 by two LSE (London School of Economics) alums; Maheen Adamjee and Lina Ahmed, Dot and Line is a tech-based network of female Math tutors who deliver an after-school mathematics program built (for Dot and Line) by subject specialists including PhDs from leading universities and top schools, to children in grades 2 to 7.

Dot and Line helps the tutors or Teaching Partners (as they like to call them) delivery the program through its blended learning product which includes paper-based worksheets and an app that the parents can use to track the progress of their child and receive assessment results. The program is delivered in small classes (at homes of tutors) which means that every child receives individualized attention. The classes also cover exam preparation and homework help.

The startup on its website claims that its learning process ensures that children develop a conceptual understanding in mathematics, through real-world application and hands-on activities and that’s one of the things that make Dot and Line centers different from the regular tuition centers, “Our after-school program enriches your child’s learning experience, helping them fall in love with math beyond what math tuition can do for them.”

Dot and Line also follows a rigorous selection process to select its Teacher Partners who then receive specialized training and certification before they could start delivering the program.

The startup currently has over 50 centers in three cities across Pakistan including Karachi, Lahore & Faisalabad, and claims to have helped hundreds of children achieve 40 percent improvement in their grades within 4 months of program.

For Teaching Partners, Dot and Line offers an opportunity to earn PKR 24,000 ($150) to PKR 72,000 ($450) every month by delivering the program without leaving their home. That’s pretty decent money considering the fact that Pakistani fresh graduates earn an average salary of PKR 26,000 per month and Dot and Line’s Teaching Partners don’t even have to be graduates. Even those who are currently pursuing a college degree could apply to become a Teaching Partner with them.

More importantly, the startup is creating opportunities for women in Pakistan many of whom, unfortunately (due to cultural and family constraints) still don’t pursue professional careers in spite of having education and skills to join country’s workforce. According to some estimates, Pakistan’s labor underutilization rate for women workers stands at 80 percent. Services like Dot and Line can help bring it down.

Dot and Line makes money by charging 20 to 40 percent commission on the revenue made by its Teacher Partners.

Started with Mathematics (only), Dot and Line is now preparing to launch an English program in August this year that will target 4 to 10-year-olds helping them improve their reading fluency, comprehension, writing and vocabulary.

Riaz Haq said…
#EdTech in #Pakistan: Queno, WonderTree, Ilmversity, Sabaq, Line & Dot, UWR offering all-in-portal for schooling. #Education #Technology

All of us have had the misfortune of showing up at the school on some holiday or strike (because of he who must not be named). If there was some better and faster mode of communication, we could have just enjoyed another fine morning in our beds. This is exactly the offering of a local edtech startup: helping schools be more efficient through tech.

Ilmversity is a school enterprise resource planning (ERP) software headquartered out of Lahore that hopes to be a one-stop-shop for educational institutions.

The portal offers pretty much everything relevant to the administrative and academic functions of a school: from attendance recording and fee management to course planning and academic progress tracking. And it’s not only meant to be for organisations. The platform is accessible to parents as well, who can check their kids’ attendance or view average class grades, among other things. It works on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model so you just have to go to the website/app, sign up, go to the dashboard and access the different modules available.

What about payments though? Currently they don’t have any channels integrated given their primarily B2B focus and therefore, all the compensations are made through online transfers at the moment.

Let’s look at their market structure first. In Pakistan, private institutions can be roughly classified into bungalow schools at one end and legacy schools and big brands on the other end. The former barely pay their staff and teachers the minimum wage and can’t be reasonably expected to have much demand for ERPs. On the other hand, the well-funded legacy schools pretty much operate the same way as they have done for the past century and have shown little appetite for innovation.

Meanwhile, the big school chains are usually quite resourceful and go for in-house software, rather than an external SaaS providers. So what is even left for our local startup then?

“We are primarily focused towards mid-tier schools catering to middle and upper middle class students, anywhere from Rs3,000 and beyond. Given the customisable number of modules, it makes the product more affordable for all slabs,” says Murtaza Mustafa.

“As for the city/country-wide school networks, we actually got one such institution (with an internal ERP) on board recently because their IT head left and the entire system was paralysed. A third-party provider like us, with customer support, frees them from the hassle and lets the school focus on its core operations,” says Manager Business Development Mustafa.

Ilmversity was launched in 2017 by three techies and a corporate executive — Jawad Ijaz, Saqib Zafar, Osama Bin Shakeel and Waqas Sohail. “We initially wanted to bring parents in the loop and give them more access to their child’s education and progress but later pivoted to more of a one-stop-shop school ERP solution when we realised the market gap,” CEO Jawad Ijaz recalls.

Their revenues primarily come from schools who have to pay upfront annual charges, priced between Rs18,000 and Rs100,000 depending on the number of modules. Plus, a pro version - with additional features such as counselling - is available for parents at a cost Rs1,000 a year.

And to this day, it is internally funded with the four founders having poured in some Rs25 million so far — quite a heavy investment for a bootstrapped startup. For how much longer can they keep bleeding? “We are still incurring losses, partly because much of the earnings are being reinvested as we want to scale quickly,” informs the CEO. In that case, wouldn’t it be just better to seek external financing? “We are exploring that option as well and are in talks with some venture capitals but the entire process is time-consuming,” he explains.

Riaz Haq said…

United We Reach (UWR) is a nonprofit organization that works to expand educational opportunities for children in socioeconomically stressed areas. In Pakistan specifically, it uses advanced technologies to create and distribute fully scripted lesson plans to students.

It is currently working on a project that integrates local Pakistani experiences with world-class education via tablets. In this project, every teacher at a UWR school is given a tablet that includes an inbuilt Learning Enhancement, Analysis and Feedback (LEAF) system, which acts as a teaching assistant. These tablets assess the student’s progress and send individual reports to the teacher so they know exactly which students are struggling and in what areas.

Global Partnership for Education (GPE)
Global Partnership for Education is the only global organization that is entirely dedicated to improving education in developing countries. It works to align policy-making and future planning to strengthen education systems. GPE has been working in Pakistan alongside UNICEF and USAID for the last six years.

Since it was launched in 2012, national spending on education in Pakistan has increased from 2.14 percent of GDP to 2.6 percent. This has created more jobs as more schools begin to open. While education is its primary focus, it also focuses on using education to improve the following areas:

Personal experiences of children with disabilities
Countries affected by fragility and conflict
Development effectiveness in international communities
Early childhood care
Girls’ education and gender equality
Knowledge and good practice exchange
Out-of-school children
While external forces will continue to affect education, its quality and its delivery, organizations like these will continue to balance out the process by working toward improved education systems in Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan bringing services closer to communities affected by the #HIV outbreak. #UNICEF is refurbishing the pediatric HIV treatment centre at Taluka Headquarters hospital in Rotadero, #Larkana #Sindh

A newly refurbished paediatric centre is to open in Ratodero, Pakistan, to serve families affected by the recent HIV outbreak in the district of Larkana. It is expected that the centre will be operational by mid-July.

Alia (not her real name), the mother of a two-year old girl, lives in the village of Mirpur Bhutto, in Ratodero Taluka in Larkana district. Alia’s world has been turned upside down since her family was caught up in the HIV outbreak in the area.

“My daughter was diagnosed with HIV just a few days ago, but she became so weak so quickly. She couldn’t eat anything we gave to her,” says Alia. After Sameera’s (not her real name) diagnosis, she was referred to Sheikh Zayed Children Hospital in Larkana to start antiretroviral therapy. The hospital is more than 50 kilometres away from the family home.

“I got these dispersible tablets for Sameera and some fever medicine, and since she started her treatment, I have seen some improvements in my daughter’s health. Her fever has gone and before there was diarrhoea from which she also recovered,” explains Sameera’s mother.

Alia’s husband is a farmer and earns less than two dollars a day. “We can hardly support our family of ten members,” she explains.

Poor road conditions and economic constraints make it difficult for Alia and her daughter to travel from their village to the district capital Larkana, currently the nearest health facility where her daughter can receive the treatment she needs.

Since the HIV outbreak was first reported in Larkana at the end of April, UNAIDS, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the Sindh AIDS Control Programme and other partners have been calling for a new paediatric treatment centre in Ratodero to bring HIV services closer to the affected communities. As a result of these efforts and in the framework of the “Sindh HIV Outbreak Response Plan, May 2019-Apr 2020,” UNICEF is refurbishing the paediatric HIV treatment centre at Taluka Headquarters hospital in Rotadero, ensuring that treatment will be available in the area where Alia and her daughter live. When the new centre opens, HIV treatment services for Sameera will be less than 10 kilometres away.

“I know my Sameera will be fine and that she will get married and have children. This is what the doctor told me. For this to happen she must continue her treatment forever. I will follow the doctor’s instructions because this is what will save my daughter’s life,” says Alia.

By the end of June, 877 people had been newly diagnosed with HIV in the Larkana district. More than 80% of the new cases are among children aged under 15 years old. A total of 721 people had already been registered in care programmes and 482 people (365 of them children under the age of 15) were on treatment.

“UNAIDS is working closely with the government, civil society organizations, the association of people living with HIV, UN agencies and all other partners to ensure that both the immediate response to the HIV outbreak and longer-term programmatic measures will be implemented and sustained,” said Maria Elena Borromeo, UNAIDS Country Director for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Riaz Haq said…
WHO mission in #Pakistan to help focus on #Infection Prevention Control (IPC) and patient #safety in #health facilities. #hospital after #HIV outbreak in #Sindh

On the request of federal health ministry, a seven-member mission of World Health Organization (WHO) has arrived in Pakistan to assist and support the country's federal and provincial health departments to develop National Quality Policy and Strategy (NQPS) and transform a few of public and private health facilities into patient-safety friendly hospitals through WHO’s flagship Patient Safety Friendly Hospital Initiative (PSFHI), health authorities said on Tuesday.

“On our request, a joint mission of WHO and the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO) of the WHO comprising seven international experts has arrived on a five-day visit to help us on patient safety strategy issues and to transform our facilities into patient safety friendly hospitals,” said Dr. Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health while talking to The News.

Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination officials said the WHO mission is comprised of WHO Regional Advisor Dr. Letaief Mondher, Dr. Jamal Nasher, Dr. Zulfiqar Khan, Dr. Bassim Zayed, Dr. Donna Forsyth from National Health Services England, Dr. Mathew Neilsen and Ms Afifa Baloch. The international mission is tasked with identifying gaps of quality, patient safety and Infection Prevention Control (IPC) within the healthcare system of Pakistan.

“The joint WHO mission has been requested to visit six major hospitals in Pakistan which includes PIMS and Shifa International Hospital Islamabad in the capital, Lahore General Hospital and Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital in Lahore and Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC) and Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) in Karachi,” an official of the federal health ministry said while explaining details of scheduled engagements of the mission. These experts, he added, would also be holding meetings with federal and provincial health authorities before presenting their proposals to the government of Pakistan.

Special Assistant to the PM Dr. Mirza said the international team of experts would be meeting with local and as well as international agencies' health officials in Pakistan and provide full technical support to the country for launching its flagship Patient Safety Friendly Hospital Initiative at the selected hospitals in the federal capital and provincial headquarters.

Health authorities said they were pushed to invite international expertise for Infection Prevention Control (IPC) and patient safety after several leading international health experts associated with WHO, UNAIDS and UN’s other health agencies warned of more Larkana-like HIV outbreaks in other parts of the country if immediate measures were not adopted for patient safety, infection control, safe disposal of hospital waste, training of healthcare providers and awareness of masses regarding infectious diseases.

“We are facing huge health challenges ranging from HIV outbreaks to having largest number of viral hepatitis patients in the world. Anti Microbial Resistance (AMR) and Extensively Drug Resistant Typhoid, growing incidence of Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) Tuberculosis, numerous water-borne diseases as well high incidence of non-communicable diseases including diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and hypertension are also causes of immense worry for us,” the NHS official conceded.

Health authorities said they were also seeking the support of local health experts from public and private health varsities and institutions in transforming major hospitals into patient friendly facilities while cooperation of provincial governments was also being sought to prevent future incidents like HIV outbreak in Sindh.

Riaz Haq said…
Last Resort: #India and #Pakistan's Informal #Schools. The stories of struggle by children of marginalized communities in India and Pakistan have an uncanny resemblance. When governments fail, people rise to help their communities. #education@Diplomat_APAC

Pooja is enrolled at a small makeshift school with a frail structure and temporary ceiling that shivers when strong winds blow.

“I want to become a teacher,” she says in a brittle voice.

Her face glows with joy every time she talks about her school. Pooja’s school is no ordinary school. She receives education at a mobile school.

Across the Radcliffe line in Maripur, Karachi, approximately, 1,000 kilometers away from Pooja, lives Roshail Atta Mahommad. The 17-year-old’s life has an uncanny resemblance to Pooja’s situation. She too has defied all social and cultural odds for education. Roshail, like Pooja, wants to become a teacher and contribute to her community’s well-being.

Even after 70 years of independence, millions of children in India and Pakistan are deprived of education. Both countries are confronting the perils of their failure to educate their citizens, notably the poor. Pooja and Roshail are among the deprived generation who were left out of the state-run education system in their respective countries.

The two may be divided by the border, but they are united by the failure of their governments to fulfill their basic fundamental right to education.

For decades governments in India have made tall symbolic promises about improving the state of education in India. They’ve conceived policies and plans that have been nothing more than toothless paper tigers. The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP)-led government in Delhi has slashed education spending by nearly 50 percent in the last 4 years. Such misplaced national priorities deprive many like Pooja of education — a promised universal birthright.

Echoes of similar hollow political promises are also responsible for the burgeoning education crisis in Pakistan.

The two nuclear rivals inherited innumerable common issues. Education is one of them. In many ways their approaches to the issue have been similar too. The two arch-rivals have identical laws that ensure free and compulsory education but little has been done to implement them. The Right to Education Act, 2009 (RTE) in India recognizes free and compulsory education for children between the age of 6 and 14, under Article 21a of the Indian Constitution. Similarly, in Pakistan Article 25-A of the constitution guarantees the right to free education to all children between the ages of 5 to 16. The right to education was enacted, in both countries, with the idea to improve the state of education, but it has been haunted by procedural inefficiencies.


The Heroes
When governments fail to deliver fundamental rights, people rise to help their communities. Sandeep Rajput in India and Gamwar Baloch in Pakistan are two such heroes.

The mobile school, run by Rajput, 41, is a free education facility on wheels. Rajput is known for chasing illiteracy in decrepit areas of Gurgaon in an old public bus. The decommissioned vehicle, once used by commuters, is now reconfigured to serve as a classroom on wheels. It is equipped with small tables and everything else a teacher might need to run a classroom. Rajput’s school on wheels, as it’s commonly known, is also recognized by the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS).

Like Rajput, Pakistan too has a warrior, who fights against an unfair educational system. In 2013, Gamwar Baloch, 21, established a makeshift school named “Tikri Education Center.” The school provides free education to the deprived students in Maripur — a neighborhood of Kiamari town in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi. Baloch helps those who have been neglected by the state and are at the very bottom of Pakistan’s social ladder.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan is leading the way with its #welfare state – the world can learn from its innovation. "Ehsaas", meaning empathy, launched by #ImranKhanPrimeMinister, is the most comprehensive welfare program ever undertaken by any government via @Telegraph

..Pakistan, for example, establishing a programme of Lady Health Workers. Health improvement starts in the community and if you tackle challenges at the source, whether it be health, education or skills training, it will have major health and economic benefits later. The community health worker model has been so successful that many years later it was picked up in high-income countries with New York, for example, now having a well-established network.

This community-based approach allows health, education and other social issues to be tackled together in a holistic fashion. Girls and boys who are healthy, for example, are more likely to get a good education and go on to be productive members of society and live healthy lives. The strongest systems work across sectors, breaking through barriers to drive programmes and solutions that touch on health, education, economic livelihoods and beyond.

This is why we should all be looking with particular interest at the work underway in Pakistan to build a sustainable welfare state. Called Ehsaas, which in Urdu literally means ‘empathy’, the new initiative is one of the most comprehensive welfare programmes ever undertaken by a national government, with an underlying ambition to create a social safety net for Pakistan that could transform the lives of millions. It is enormously wide-ranging and ambitious.


Ehsaas is seeking to end the cycle of poverty faced by many Pakistanis. Acknowledging that no single area will unlock this ambition alone, Ehsaas encompasses 134 policies that range from tackling corruption to creating educational opportunities to providing the elderly with decent homes.

The programme is led by Dr Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection, who has been mandated by Prime Minister Imran Khan to work in partnership across multiple federal ministries that these policies will be driven by, as well with provincial governments who have devolved powers including on education and health. Without a multisectoral approach, it would not be possible to create the welfare state envisioned by Ehsaas.

The launch of a countrywide public consultation was particularly important as it was the first time a public policy in Pakistan had been developed in this way and demonstrates a new level of openness and transparency. Ehsaas’s impact will hopefully go much further than the borders of Pakistan. It will provide many lessons for low-, middle- and high-income countries.


We should seek to learn from the innovative approaches that Ehsaas plans to take to lift children out of poverty, to ensure girls get the same shot as boys in school and to ensure that millions of young people have both the skills training and a social safety net. This includes empowering the most marginalized women through the latest mobile technology and monitoring school attendance using biometric identification.

There is a long road ahead to achieve the ambitions set out in the Ehsaas programme, which is still in its infancy. Whatever the eventual outcome, it is encouraging to see a country with Pakistan’s potential setting its ambitions so high. As with the community health worker system that turned global health on its head, the breaking down of silos is a vital step in building a welfare state in Pakistan but also provides a blueprint for how other countries can ensure essential services for all.
Riaz Haq said…
All You Need to Know About PM Imran Khan’s Poverty Alleviation Program ‘Ehsas’

What is Ehsas?
Ehsas is Pakistan’s biggest and boldest program for poverty eradication which aims to collaborate with all stakeholders—public, private, civil society, philanthropists, and expatriate Pakistanis towards one collective goal – poverty alleviation. The Poverty Alleviation Coordination Council, chaired by Dr. Sania Nishtar, developed the program after extensive consultation. It aims to change the lives of at least 3.3 million poor people in the next four years.

PM Khan has allocated a massive amount of Rs. 80 billion –expendable to Rs. 120 billion by 2021 – for his anti-poverty derive which, according to him, is founded on the importance of strengthening institutions, transparency, and good governance.

Following these necessary steps, Imran vowed to convert Pakistan into a welfare state where jobless, poor farmers and laborers, the sick and undernourished, lower-middle-class students, poor widows, and helpless elderly citizens are well taken care of. The program targets not only the underprivileged but also aims to provide them with the means to uplift their social status.

Welfare State
Pakistan is currently in Elite capture –where public resources are meant for a few families from the elite class. He wants to break the shackles by spending public money on the general public. The program Ehsas aims to empower the women economically; focus on the role of human capital formation for poverty alleviation, economic growth, and sustainable development.

The Four Pillars of Ehsas
According to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement, his poverty eradication drive is grounded on four fundamental pillars: countering elite capture and making the government system work to create equality; safety nets for disadvantaged segments of the population; jobs and livelihoods; and human capital development.

In the following lines, we’ll discuss all four pillars of Ehsas in detail.

I. Countering Elite Capture & Inequality of System

The first and foremost part of this anti-poverty campaign is combatting the elite capture and inequity in the system which provides all the necessary facilities to the privileged only – be it tax relief, water distribution, crop choices, law & order, land use priorities and much more.

To cater all these issues, Khan plans to introduce a new Constitutional amendment to move article 38(d) from the “Principles of Policy” section into the “Fundamental Rights” section – this minor tweak will make the provision of food, clothing, housing, education, and medical relief for citizens who cannot earn a livelihood due to infirmity, sickness or unemployment, a state responsibility.

Secondly, he aims to increase social protection spending. In the fiscal year 2019-20 – an additional amount of Rs. 80 billion will be added to the social protection spending, which will increase to Rs. 120 billion in the next fiscal year.

By digitizing the data of the poor class, the government aims to collaborate with pro-poor organizations to help needy. It is also going to earmark resources for pro-poor sectors to prevent channeling of funds to other sectors through ad hoc decision-making.

He said that a one-window social protection operation would be conducted to avoid any duplication and abuse.

Pakistan’s first ever official report on multidimensional poverty was released in 2016, and it revealed shocking figures. According to the study, 39 percent (38.8%) of Pakistanis live in multidimensional poverty, while 24.4 percent of those don’t even have enough money to satisfy their basic needs.

To facilitate all of them, the government needs a database – and for this purpose, the government is establishing the National Socioeconomic Registry 2019 which will make the database of the poor class. Multiple validation procedures will be run for the collected data through follow-up review surveys to identify the real poor correctly.

Riaz Haq said…
All You Need to Know About PM Imran Khan’s Poverty Alleviation Program ‘Ehsas’

Once the data is completed, the government will roll out two social protection programs Kifalat (sponsorship or support) and Tahaffuz (protection). Both programs will be run through the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).

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Kifalat: Under the program, 5.7 million women across the country will get savings accounts in the nearby banks on one woman one bank account policy. The women of impoverished areas, without the bank facilities, will be given mobile phones to receive the funds.

As many as 5000 ‘Digital Hubs’ will be established on Tehsil level all over the country which will provide details about job opportunities for the local youth and will make the government’s digital resources accessible.

Tahaffuz: Tahaffuz or Protection will provide one-time financial aid to the poor against catastrophic events. This may aid interest-free easy loans for house-building (especially for landless farmers), free legal assistance in severe cases, financial aid for widows who don’t have children earning money, Ehsas homes for orphan children, Panah-gahs for homeless people, Sehat Card for 3.3 million people.

Welfare for Elderly: An increment in the Old Age Benefit and minimum pension for elderly citizens, the establishment of Great Ehsas Homes (Old Age Homes) through Bait-ul-Maal.

Government Increases Old-Age Pension By 20 Percent |
Labour Welfare: Creation of a labor expert group to provide its recommendations to address the following labor-related issues: loopholes in the existing laws which either keep the workers out of jobs or pay them poorly. The group will suggest amendments in the rules for minimum wage, and health and safety regulations, welfare and pension schemes for the informal sector.

Overseas Pakistanis

In a statement during a formal dinner with Saudi Royal Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Prime Minister Imran Khan requested him to take care of the Pakistani expatriates in Saudi Arabia and said:

Please take very good care of my people (in the Kingdom). They leave their families and everything behind to work abroad. They are very near to my heart.

His statement is reflected in the Ehsas program which suggests policy making for the welfare of overseas Pakistanis. The program aims to increase the number of community Welfare Attaches and Protector of Immigrants Officers to facilitate the expatriates. It will also involve well-reputed and well-off expatriates to facilitate the working class Pakistanis abroad.

It includes policy making to allow free or subsidized air tickets to low-paid workers and productive negotiations with the governments to extend the duration of the working permit for unskilled labors as they hardly recover the cost of immigration their permit’s duration ends.

III. Human Capital Development
poor children pakistan
Human capital development plays a significant role in the wealth of a nation and requires prioritizing investments in the early years by controlling malnutrition, providing preschool or early education and protecting children from harm.

This will help against stunting in children by providing de-worming drugs, iron, folic acid, micronutrient supplements through government hospitals. Besides setting up a Multi-sectoral Nutrition Coordinating Body and the first-ever university-hosted National Centre for Human Nutrition, it also includes the 5+1 model of desi chicken and goat asset transfer, kitchen gardening, seed distribution for poverty alleviation and nutrition.

Riaz Haq said…
All You Need to Know About PM Imran Khan’s Poverty Alleviation Program ‘Ehsas’

The program also promises specialized nutritional food for stunted children in a cost-effective manner and to address the issue of fake and adulterated milk.

Pro-Poor Education Program

pakistani girls studying in class room
Under this initiative, the government aims to give people in the far-flung areas access to free and quality education through vouchers where only private schools exist, and by contracting the private schools for this task. It also includes increasing the budget for the National Education Foundation so that there’s no hurdle in the policy implementation. It also offers the following:

Free e-learning content for students.
The conditional cash transfer program.
Second chance program for overaged girls in schools, colleges, and universities.
Need-based undergraduate scholarships for students from low-income families.
Vocational training for girls and women.

Ehsas aims at adopting a Universal health coverage policy in both federal and provincial levels with innovative technology tools to provide healthcare access to as many people as possible – especially in underprivileged areas.

Under this program, the health budget will also be increased to fund public hospitals. It also includes the provision of Sehat card to over 3.3 million needy people which will cover several wide-ranging medical and surgical procedures including heart surgeries, stunts, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, dialysis, maternity amongst others.

IV. Jobs & Livelihood
Germany Is Offering 3 Million Jobs for Pakistanis | propakistani.pkEmployment generation is one of the primary objectives of the economic reform agenda of Imran Khan’s government. Ehsas’ framework involves policy making of Solutions Innovation Challenge, Prize Funding, and Venture Capitalism. These programs, through a public-private partnership, will provide small interest-free loans for innovative business opportunities.

The following are some examples of Solutions Innovation Challenge:

To reinvent the traditional ‘Thela’ to enhance its income generating capacity.
To develop a micro-credit facility for daily-wage workers so that they can afford monthly groceries.
To identify online platforms, which can help daily wagers, especially women earn a living wage with dignity.
To develop a rickshaw garbage collector which can create livelihoods, as well as improve water & sanitation-related problems.
For those illiterate and living below the poverty line, Ehsas will allocate khokhas (kiosks), tea shops, newspaper stands, and shoe polishing booths on government-owned land or in government-owned hospitals, parks, and railway stations

Export of Manpower

With the help of the Ministry for Overseas Pakistanis, Ehsas has accelerated country’s foreign policy drive to review opportunities in neighboring countries, and other emerging opportunities in countries like Japan and Germany that have aging populations and need human resources.

All the measures mentioned above require making government institutions transparent, accountable and responsive for the success of this program.
Riaz Haq said…
In Pakistan, it’s middle class rising
S. Akbar Zaidi

he general perception still, and unfortunately, held by many people, foreigners and Pakistanis, is that Pakistan is largely an agricultural, rural economy, where “feudals” dominate the economic, social, and particularly political space. Nothing could be further from this outdated, false framing of Pakistan’s political economy. Perhaps the single most significant consequence of the social and structural transformation under way for the last two decades has been the rise and consolidation of a Pakistani middle class, both rural, but especially, urban.


Girls shining
Data based on social, economic and spatial categories all support this argument. While literacy rates in Pakistan have risen to around 60%, perhaps more important has been the significant rise in girls’ literacy and in their education. Their enrolment at the primary school level, while still less than it is for boys, is rising faster than it is for boys. What is even more surprising is that this pattern is reinforced even for middle level education where, between 2002-03 and 2012-13, there had been an increase by as much as 54% when compared to 26% for that of boys. At the secondary level, again unexpectedly, girls’ participation has increased by 53% over the decade, about the same as it has for boys. While boys outnumber girls in school, girls are catching up. In 2014-15, it was estimated that there were more girls enrolled in Pakistan’s universities than boys — 52% and 48%, respectively. Pakistan’s middle class has realised the significance of girls’ education, even up to the college and university level.

In spatial terms, most social scientists would agree that Pakistan is almost all, or at least predominantly, urban rather than rural, even though such categories are difficult to concretise. Research in Pakistan has revealed that at least 70% of Pakistanis live in urban or urbanising settlements, and not in rural settlements, whatever they are. Using data about access to urban facilities and services such as electricity, education, transport and communication connectivity, this is a low estimate. Moreover, even in so-called “rural” and agricultural settlements, data show that around 60% or more of incomes accrue from non-agricultural sources such as remittances and services. Clearly, whatever the rural is, it is no longer agricultural. Numerous other sets of statistics would enhance the middle class thesis in Pakistan.
Riaz Haq said…
Bombed by the Taliban: UAE brings schools to thousands denied an education in Pakistan
A joint initiative in the Swat valley has seen dozens of schools rebuilt after being destroyed by militants

Growing up, all Naeem Hakeem had wanted was to study to become an electrical engineer.

But in 2008, his dream was shattered when the Pakistan Taliban blew up his school in the country’s north-west Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The militants had emerged as a dominant force in the mountainous Swat valley district, and had begun enforcing a strict version of Islam.

They banned modern education for both boys and girls as part of their efforts to prevent any semblance of a modern education system.

A year later, Naeem, along with his family, had no choice but to leave their home when the Pakistan military launched a counter-offensive.

The area became too dangerous to risk staying, with frequent firefights between combatants as well as numerous deadly roadside bombings.

“That was the most terrible moment of my life, seeing my school being burnt out in front of my eyes,” Hakeem, now 21, told The National.

“I spent around two years in a makeshift tent, far away from my hometown and missed my education too. Three years of my life were wasted.”

Hakeem, now an undergraduate student in Swat’s capital Saidu Sharif, told how - more than a decade later - his life was finally back on track.

He and his family were able to return to his rural hometown of Matta in 2011, and he had since resumed his studies.

The reason for his change of fortune, he revealed, was largely down to a UAE decision to help fund the rebuilding of dozens of schools in Swat.

Through the UAE-Pakistan Assistance Programme, the Emirates has allocated $41.52 million (Dh152m) for the reconstruction of 60 schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

More than 50 have already been built, with an initial focus on two districts – Swat and South Waziristan. More than 30,000 students are now enrolled.

“The militants had blown up our school at night, making it unable to be used for education purposes,” said Mohammad Alam, 48, a teacher at Government Boys High School Ahingaro Dherai – a second school just outside the town of Mingora that also became a target.

“But you can’t imagine [how incredible it is] now seeing this beautiful two-storey building constructed with the financial assistance of the UAE.”

According to UNICEF, Pakistan has the world’s second-highest number of out-of-school children, with an estimated 22.8 million aged between 5-16 not attending classes.

The 2018-19 Pakistan Economic Survey found the country’s literacy rate for those aged 15 and above was at 57 per cent.

Meanwhile, Maldives tops the South Asia region at 98.6 per cent, followed by Sri Lanka at 91.2 per cent, Iran at 84.7 per cent and India at 69.3 per cent.

Because of the fighting in Swat, child literacy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is now lower than the national average, at 55 per cent.

But that statistic is fast being improved, due in part to the intervention of international donors such as the UAE.

The Swat valley now has a total of 1,647 public schools, Dr Jawad Iqbal, an education activist, revealed.

“I got admission in this school for its excellent environment for female students,” said Fatima Ali, a 10th grade student whose name has been changed to protect her identity.

Her school, some six kilometres outside of Mingora, and was first set fire to and then completely demolished by the Pakistan Taliban.

“My parents couldn’t afford private schools’ fee, so I had to wait till reconstruction of this school in my area,” she said. Now, as many as 1,300 students study at the new premises built by the UAE.

“The UAE is developing many humanitarian projects in Pakistan and our special focus is on improving education facilities for the youth,” said Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Al Zaabi, the UAE’s Ambassador to Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said…
65.6% #BISP recipients perceive Benazir #Bhutto and her family to be the source of BISP money being received by the beneficiaries. #Pakistan #PPP

In comes this on-going research by Rehan Rafay Jamil, a PhD Candidate at Brown University, whose thesis essentially explores the subject of social policy and changing citizenship boundaries in Pakistan, where one of the key questions being explored is whether or not cash transfers programs create more active citizenship.

Speaking at Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund's third conference on research and learning held on Oct 30-31,2019, Jamil's survey findings reveal that both beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries of BISP perceive Benazir Bhutto and her family to be the source of BISP money being received by the beneficiaries. The percentage was higher in the case of beneficiaries (65.6%) compared to the non- beneficiaries (60.3%) – but both segments thought that late PM and her family are the source of this financial assistance, rather than the federal government in power.

But before PTI supporters cry foul, here is another finding worth brooding over. Jamil's sample-based research in Faisalabad, Muzaffargarh, Hyderabad and Thatta also found out that despite beneficiaries' close association of BISP with Benazir Bhutto and her family, voting patterns were split between those who voted for the PPP and those who voted for the Shirazis (or the independents) in the last general election. In other words, BISP's close association with the late PM and her party does not reinforce clientelism.

Hopefully Jamil would expand this research to explore province-wise responses, and perhaps by districts that have high percentage of BISP beneficiaries as against those that have much less percentage of beneficiaries. Other nuggets from Jamil's ongoing research are also sort of myth-busting or at least raise important questions.

For instance, many critics argue that handouts such as cash grants under BISP or free food under Ehsaas-Saylani Langar Scheme (ESLS) make beggars out of people and erode basic human dignity. Jamil's research thus far instead shows that these social welfare programmes do not appear to create social stigma. If anything, the impact is quite the reverse.

His preliminary findings show that a vast majority of beneficiaries and their male household members reported feelings of “pride and dignity on being cash transfer recipients" and “being recognized by the state as citizens".

This coils back the discussion to earlier question whether or not cash transfers programs create more active citizenship. Jamil seems to be resting his thought on the notion of ‘citizenship as a bundle of rights', including the right to social welfare that often creates a sense of affiliation and belonging with the society at large.

It should not come as a surprise if Pakistan's government, current or next, ends up citing this research (once completed), especially the virtues of how social welfare increases citizenship to justify expansion in social welfare.

But in that vein, while state's social welfare may well be a necessary condition to achieve higher level of citizenship among citizens, it is surely not a sufficient condition. And in the absence of full spectrum of political, economic and civic rights, expansion in social welfare can only increase the level of citizenship to a certain degree. If anything, if the state grants its citizens the full spectrum of political, economic and civic rights, the need for social welfare programme may in fact grow less, not more.
Riaz Haq said…
BISP, Citizenship and Rights Claims in Pakistan

By Rehan Rafay Jamil

Taking Stock of Ten Years of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP)

Over ten years since its establishment, the Benazir Income Support Progamme (BISP) has become Pakistan’s largest social safety net, providing coverage to over 5.6 million women and their households across the country. The expansion of BISP over the past decade marks an important shift in social policy in Pakistan. BISP has now been overseen by three elected governments and has resulted in a significant increase in federal fiscal allocations for social protection. Despite vocal reservations about its name expressed by some political parties, the program remains Pakistan’s largest flagship poverty alleviation program with international recognition.[1]

Third party impact evaluations of BISP have largely focused on its poverty alleviation, nutritional and gender empowerment impacts.[2] [3] These evaluations point to important reductions in poverty and improved nutritional levels for beneficiaries and their households. Oxford Policy Management’s 2016 evaluation finds reductions in BISP households’ reliance on casual labor and an increase in household savings and asset accumulation.[3]

BISP is one of the largest cash transfer programs targeted exclusively at women in the Global South, making the gender impacts of BISP important to understand. In their evaluation, Ambler and De Brauw (2017) find some changes in gender norms and attitudes amongst beneficiaries and their families. Their study finds that female beneficiaries are more likely to have greater mobility to visit friends without their spouse’s permission, are less likely to tolerate domestic violence and male members are more likely to contribute to household work.

BISP and the transition from Cash Transfer Beneficiaries to Citizens

The evaluation reports provide some evidence that BISP has also had a wider set of intended and unintended consequences in influencing beneficiaries’ access to public institutions and spaces. Perhaps the most frequently cited impact of BISP has been a marked increase in rural women’s access to computerized national identity cards (CNICs), a prerequisite for obtaining the program. CNICs can be seen as the first step to citizenship and rights claims in Pakistan. The most significant impact of the rapid increase in CNIC registration amongst BISP beneficiaries has been with regards to voting. Ambler and De Brauw (2017) find evidence that BISP beneficiaries are more likely to vote in national elections. But whether BISP beneficiaries are empowered by the cash transfer to make a wider set of rights claims and access local state services, is less clear.

In order to understand some of the changes brought about by BISP in the lives of rural women, I conducted qualitative field work, including in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with beneficiaries and their spouses, in the district of Thatta in Lower Sindh. Thatta has a high proportion of BISP beneficiaries (47 percent), being a high poverty district. The aim of the fieldwork was to develop an understanding of how beneficiaries and their families perceive of BISP and whether the program has brought about any changes in their engagement with local state services.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's rank falls from 151 to 152 among 189 nations on human development index. #UNDP gave Pakistan a score of 0.560 that ranks Pakistan as the 2nd last country among Medium Human development countries. #HDI

Pakistan continues to remain among the medium human development countries with its position falling from 151 to 152, according to the 2019 Human Development Index (HDI) released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The UNDP’s Human Development Report (HDR) “Beyond Income, Beyond Averages, Beyond Today: Inequalities in Human Development in the 21st Century” which was launched on Monday in Colombia, gave Pakistan a score of 0.560.

The score puts Pakistan as the second last country among the Medium Human development countries. Solomon Islands is the only country behind Pakistan in the category.

The HDI classifications are based on HDI fixed cutoff points. Countries falling under the cutoff points of less than 0.550 are categorised as low human development, while medium human development are categorised within the range of 0.550–0.699. Scores of 0.700–0.799 is for high human development and 0.800 or greater for very high human development.

According to the data, Pakistan’s life expectancy stands at 67; while the expected years of schooling was at 8.5 years, with the mean years of schooling standing at 5.2. The country’s Gross National Income (GNI) per capita was $5,190, the data showed.

However, the trend from 1990 till 2018 showed that Pakistan had steadily improved from being a low human development country to a medium development country.

When the report was first published in 1990, Pakistan scored 0.404. The latest report gave the country a score of 0.560, an overall increase in the score by 1.17 per cent.

The human development approach was developed by Pakistani economist Mahbub Ul Haq and was further improved by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen’s work on human capabilities. The HDI was created to emphasise that people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country, not economic growth alone.

According to a press release issued by UNDP Pakistan, the report talks about the importance of addressing the different kinds of inequalities in the world today. The report measures the countries’ progress beyond just economic growth, with the ultimate aim of unlocking people’s full potential.

The report analyzes inequality in three steps: beyond income, beyond averages, and beyond today.

“Inequalities exist at all levels of society, starting from the level of the household. As an example, over 22 per cent of under-five children in South Asia experience nutritional inequality at home – where one child in the household is malnourished while a sibling is not,” the statement said.

The report has highlighted that over a third of Pakistani children under the age of five experience such “intra-household inequality”.

Speaking on the release of the report, Resident Representative of UNDP Pakistan Ignacio Artaza stated, “The HDR shows us that inequality is not ‘natural’ or inevitable. However, governments, civil societies, and ordinary citizens need to work together and translate words into concrete actions to ensure that people all over the world can live their lives to their fullest potential”.
Riaz Haq said…
Human Development Report 2019
Inequalities in Human Development in the 21st Century
Briefing note for countries on the 2019 Human Development Report

Pakistan’s HDI value for 2018 is 0.560 (India 0.647)— which put the country in the medium human development
category—positioning it at 152 (India 129) out of 189 countries and territories.

The GDI is calculated for 166 countries. The 2018 female HDI value for Pakistan is 0.464 (India 0.574) in contrast with
0.622 (India 0.692) for males, resulting in a GDI value of 0.747, placing it into Group 5. In comparison, GDI values for
Bangladesh and India are 0.895 and 0.829 respectively (see Table D).

Between 1990 and 2018, Pakistan’s HDI value increased from 0.404 to 0.560, an increase of 38.6 percent.
Table A reviews Pakistan’s progress in each of the HDI indicators. Between 1990 and 2018, Pakistan’s life
expectancy at birth increased by 7.0 years, mean years of schooling increased by 2.9 years and expected
years of schooling increased by 3.8 years. Pakistan’s GNI per capita increased by about 62.4 percent
between 1990 and 2018.

Pakistan’s HDI for 2018 is 0.560. However, when the value is discounted for inequality, the HDI falls to
0.386, a loss of 31.1 percent due to inequality in the distribution of the HDI dimension indices. Bangladesh
and India show losses due to inequality of 24.3 percent and 26.3 percent respectively. The average loss due
to inequality for medium HDI countries is 25.9 percent and for South Asia it is 25.9 percent. The Human
inequality coefficient for Pakistan is equal to 30.2 percent (see Table C).

The most recent survey data that were publicly available for Pakistan’s MPI estimation refer to 2017/2018.
In Pakistan, 38.3 percent (India 27.9 percent) of the population (75,520 thousand people) are multidimensionally poor while an
additional 12.9 percent (India 19.37 percent) are classified as vulnerable to multidimensional poverty (25,454 thousand people).
The breadth of deprivation (intensity) in Pakistan, which is the average deprivation score experienced by
people in multidimensional poverty, is 51.7 percent. The MPI, which is the share of the population that is
multidimensionally poor, adjusted by the intensity of the deprivations, is 0.198. Bangladesh and India have
MPIs of 0.198 and 0.123 respectively.
Riaz Haq said…
Donors pledge Rs350 million as Shaukat Khanum Hospital turns 25. Construction of Pakistan’s third and largest #shaukatkhanumhospital in #Karachi is about to begin and it will benefit people of Sindh and Balochistan #Pakistan #Cancer #Hospital @SKMCH

Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is chairman of the hospital’s board of governors and celebrities Ali Zafar, Mikaal Zulfiqar, Maya Ali, Hira Mani, Reema Khan, Shoaib Akhter, Javed Miandad, Jahangir Khan, Hamid Mir and Salim Bokhari joined the celebrations to encourage the donors.

At the programme, Imran Khan narrated SKMCH&RC’s journey and said the dream of building a cancer hospital in Pakistan appeared to be unachievable in the beginning, but people’s unprecedented trust and generous support made this possible. He said the hospital has now become a symbol of hope for thousands of cancer patients in the country. “Construction of Pakistan’s third and largest Shaukat Khanum Hospital in Karachi is about to begin and it will benefit people of Sindh and Balochistan. They will be provided state-of-the-art cancer diagnostic and treatment facilities under one roof,” he said.

During the four-hour long programme, SKMCH&RC supporter from across the globe continued to call and pledged Silver Jubilee donations. People also called to become ‘Ambassador of Hope’ for Shaukat Khanum and pledged to donate on a monthly basis. Pledges of Rs350 million were received in a short time. They are the proof that donors’ trust in SKMCH&RC has increased over the period of time.
Riaz Haq said…
India falls behind Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal in global hunger index; ranks 102nd among 107 countries

India has ranked 102nd among 107 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI). In 2018, India had ranked 55 among 77 nations listed in the GHI. South Asian countries like Pakistan (94), Bangladesh (88) and Sri Lanka (66) have fared better than India, says a report prepared by Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide.

India is among 45 countries that have serious levels of hunger. The report says several countries have higher hunger levels now than in 2010, and around 45 countries are set to fail to achieve low levels of hunger by 2030. The GHI report says hunger is the highest in South Asia and Africa South of the Sahara region. "South Asia and Africa South of the Sahara are the regions with the highest 2019 GHI scores, at 29.3 and 28.4 respectively, indicating serious levels of hunger," says the report.

India's 'child wasting rate' (low weight for height) is extremely high at 20.8 per cent -- the highest wasting rate of any country, says the report. Child stunting rate in India, 37.9 per cent, is also categorised as "very high" in terms of its public health significance. In India, just 9.6 per cent of all children between 6 and 23 months of age are fed a minimum acceptable diet, it says.

The report says as of 2015-2016, around 90 per cent of Indian households used an improved drinking water source while 39 per cent of households had no sanitation facilities. Contradicting the government's claim of making India open defecation free, the report says "open defecation is still practised" in the country. "In 2014, the prime minister instituted the "Clean India" campaign to end open defecation and ensure that all households had latrines. Even with new latrine construction, however, open defecation is still practised," it adds.
Riaz Haq said…
#Food data raises alert: #Indians are consuming less pulses (daal) and #milk . This is especially for the poorer sections, whose spending on #protein -rich “superior” foods tends to increase even more with higher incomes. | India News,The Indian Express

Is there stagnation in demand for pulses, milk and other protein-rich foods in India? The National Statistical Office (NSO) withheld its household consumption expenditure survey report for 2017-18 but alternative data sources do suggest a slowdown — at least in respect of the ubiquitous dal and doodh.

At a global Pulses Conclave held earlier this month in Pune, the overwhelming concern expressed by participants was: Why are we not eating enough pulses?

One of the presentations at the event was a detailed analysis of the estimated consumption of individual pulses — chana (chickpea), yellow peas, masur (red lentil), arhar (pigeon-pea), moong (green gram) and urad (black gram) — based on year-wise opening stocks plus domestic production and imports, and deducting exports, diversion towards seed and feed, and closing stocks.

The aggregate picture that emerged was simple: Pulses consumption in India is showing signs of flattening.

Between 2013-14 and 2017-18, it rose from 18.6 million tonnes (mt) to 22.5 mt, but fell to 22.1 mt in 2018-19 and is projected to further decline to 20.7 mt this year. Some of that may be attributable to prices. Thus, 2015-16 and 2016-17 recorded a consumption drop alongside double-digit dal inflation. The peak consumption in 2017-18 was when prices actually dipped 20.8 per cent year-on-year. The link between consumption and inflation, however, breaks down from 2018-19 (see table).

Saurabh Bhartia of the Indian Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA) — the apex organisation of dal millers, traders, exporters and importers that drew up the estimates — is convinced that the apparent demand slowdown is real.

“We need a National Egg Coordination Committee-like body for pulses to push consumption. The campaign they launched in the 1980s helped in positioning egg as a wholesome nutrition food. The time has come for a similar sustained drive promoting pulses as an excellent source of protein, micronutrients and fibre that is also low-fat and cholesterol-free,” he says.

Nitin Kalantri, a leading dal trader and processor from Latur in Maharashtra, traces the low growth in pulses consumption to 2015-16, when retail prices of arhar dal breached the Rs 200/kg level.
Riaz Haq said…
Half of the world's poor people live in these 5 countries

India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh housed half of the world's extremely poor people, according to a World Bank report. In a recently released Poverty and Shared Prosperity report 2018, titled “Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle,” by World Bank, 368 million, out of world’s 736 million extreme poor live in the five countries (in descending order) as at 2015.

These countries are also the most populous countries of South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, the two regions that together account for 85% (629 million) of the world’s poor.

The report states that “to make significant continued progress towards the global target of reducing extreme poverty (those living on less than R26.03 a day) to less than 3% by 2030, large reductions in poverty in these five countries will be crucial. The report using consumption in 2015 for both India and Nigeria based on projections, not direct enumerations of consumption from recent household surveys, suggests that Nigeria is now the country with the poorest people in the world.
Riaz Haq said…
The literacy rate increased by 1.6pc to 62.3pc in 2017-18, from 60.7pc in 2014-15, according to the Economic Survey of Pakistan launched on Monday.

The survey stated: “Pakistan social and living standards measurement (PSLM) survey could not be conducted in 2016-17 and 2017-18 on account of ‘Population & Housing Census in 2017’. However, according to Labour Force Survey 2017-18, literacy rate trends shows 62.3pc in 2017-18 (as compared to 60.7pc in 2014-15), males (from 71.6pc to 72.5pc) and females (from 49.6pc to 51.8pc).”

An area-wise analysis suggests that the literacy rate increased in both rural (51.9pc to 53.3pc) and urban (76pc to 76.6pc) areas

“It is also observed male-female disparity narrowing down with time span. Literacy rate increases in all provinces, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (54.1pc to 55.3pc), Punjab (61.9pc to 64.7pc) and Balochistan (54.3pc to 55.5pc) except in Sindh (63.0pc to 62.2pc) where marginal decrease has been observed.”

Education expenditure

The survey said that expenditure on education was estimated at 2.4pc of GDP in 2017-18, compared to 2.2pc in 2016-17.

Education experts have called for at least 4pc of the GDP to go towards education.

The survey said the government is “committed” to increasing financial resources for education. It said education expenditure has risen gradually since 2013-14.


While discussing enrolment at the school and college level, the survey said that an increase of 7.3pc was observed in pre-primary enrolment at the national level, which increased 12.27 million in 2017-18 compared to 11.4m in 2016-17.

It said there were a total of 172,200 functioning primary schools – grades one to five – in 2017-18, with 519,000 teachers across the country. These schools had an overall enrolment of 22.9m students, an increase of 5.5pc from the previous year.

There were 46,800 middle schools in 2017-18, with 438,600 teachers and enrolment of 7.3m, an increase of 4.3pc from the enrolment level in 2016-17. Enrolment is estimated to increase by another 3.7pc to 7.6m in 2018-19.

There were a total of 30,900 high schools with 556,600 teachers functioning in the country in 2017-18. High school enrolment, at 3.9m, represents an increase of 7.4pc from the enrolment level of 3.6m in 2016-17.

High school enrolment is estimated to increase by another 6.6pc to 4.1m in 2018-19.

They survey said there were a total of 5,200 higher secondary schools and intermediate colleges with a teacher population of 121,900 in 2017-18.

It said the overall enrolment of 1.75m in these schools was a healthy increase of 9.8pc from the enrolment level in 2016-17. Enrolment is expected to rise to 1.84m, by another 5pc, in 2018-19.

A total of 3,700 technical and vocational institutes with 18,200 teachers were functional in 2017-18. The enrolment of 433,200 represents an increase of 25.6pc from the previous year. Enrolment is projected to increase by 8.7pc during 2018-19.

There were 1,657 degree colleges in the country with 42,000 teachers in 2017-18. That year, a significant decline of 47.3pc in enrolment to 503,800 was observed at the enrolment level, which is projected to decrease further by 4.3pc in 2018-19.

There were 186 universities in 2017-18, the survey said, with 56,900 teachers and a total enrolment of 1.6 million. Enrolment was 7.7pc higher than in previous years, but the survey said: “The growth in enrolment however is projected to decline by 0.2pc in 2018-19.”
Riaz Haq said…
#WHO's Dr Palitha Gunarathna Mahipala has lauded #Pakistan's efforts in tackling #coronavirus, noting that the country had come up "with one of the world’s best National Response Program against the virus". #COVID19 #CoronavirusPandemic #health

KARACHI: World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative Dr Palitha Gunarathna Mahipala, lauded Pakistan's efforts in tackling coronavirus, noting that the country had come up "with one of the world’s best National Response Program against the virus".

The WHO official urged people to follow the precautionary and preventive measures to avoid contracting the lethal virus, which is extremely contagious but not as lethal as some other members of the coronavirus family.

“Pakistan has timely come up with one of the world’s best National Response Program against COVID-19 and it is being implemented very effectively. Authorities are doing their job and now it is the responsibility of the people to follow the instructions and take preventive and precautionary measures to avoid contracting the viral disease”, Dr Mahipala said while speaking exclusively to The News International during his visit to Karachi.

The WHO representative inspected the isolation ward of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) in Karachi and during his meeting with the Executive Director JPMC Dr Seemin Jamali, expressed satisfaction over steps taken by the health institute for dealing with the suspected patients. He called for more testing facilities in the public sector in case the number of patients increases.

He also visited the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) Ojha Campus and inspected their diagnostic lab as well as their isolation facility, terming the health institute a "world-class diagnostic and treatment facility".

As part of his engagements in the city, Dr Mahipala also met the provincial health minister Dr Azra Pechuho and inquired about the status of diagnostic kits and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and offered WHO’s support in the provision of kits for the testing of suspected COVID-19 patients in Sindh.

Talking to The News at the WHO sub-office in Karachi, Dr Mahipala noted that the federal and provincial governments had arranged around 2,000 isolation beds in the country to house suspected patients while extraordinary screening arrangements had been made at the points of entry by the authorities, which were helpful measures to keep the virus away from the country.

“At the moment Pakistan has seven diagnostic labs which are capable of conducting 15,000 tests but there is a need for more diagnostic facilities in case the number of suspected patients go up,” he said.

"Authorities have even established a mobile diagnostic facility that had been dispatched to the Taftan border for testing and diagnosing suspected people coming from Iran," acknowleged the WHO official.

Highlighting the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said even countries with well-advanced health systems like South Korea and Italy failed to contain COVID-19 but added that Pakistani authorities timely responded to the threat and took measures which resulted in keeping the virus at bay for a longer time at a time when other counties were already battling a rising number of cases.

“Maintaining hand hygiene is the key to prevent oneself from contracting not only COVID-19 but also many other transmissible diseases. People should regularly wash their hands with soap and water at least for 20 seconds and use sanitisers when they can’t wash their hands”, he said adding that adopting coughing etiquettes was also very import as it would prevent spreading the virus to the others.

“And it is very important that people remain indoors for some days if they have flu-like symptoms. It would prevent other people from contracting the disease even if it is not COVID-19”, Dr Mahipala said.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan National #Security Committee Announces Country's Response to #Coronavirus Outbreak. Shuts #schools, Cancels #PakistanDayParade , closes western borders, sets up testing/isolation/quarantines at borders, bans public gatherings & big weddings.

The National Security Committee (NSC) on Friday decided to take a number of steps to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country, including closing the border with Iran and Afghanistan and banning all large public gatherings.

The high-level NSC meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, was attended by the provincial chief ministers and the civilian and military leadership.

Major decisions taken by the NSC:

Border with Iran, Afghanistan to be closed for two weeks
Schools shut until April 5
Large public gatherings including weddings banned for two weeks
International flights to operate only from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad
Pakistan Day parade cancelled
Remaining PSL matches to take place in empty stadiums
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza and other government officials detailed the decisions taken by the body at a press conference, with Mirza revealing that Pakistan now has 28 cases of COVID-19.

"There is a lot of speculation about the total number of cases in the country. However, I can confirm that Pakistan has 28 cases of coronavirus," said Mirza, who was accompanied by government spokesperson Firdous Ashiq Awan and PM's Special Assistant on National Security Division and Strategic Policy Planning Moeed Yousuf.

He said the seven new cases had all been reported in Taftan among Pakistani pilgrims who have returned from Iran. All seven people are stable and recovering.

Mirza announced that Pakistan's border with Afghanistan and Iran will be closed "completely" for two weeks, following which the situation will be reviewed. During this period, the system for screening and preventing further infections from entering the country will be made stronger.

He said the first batch of pilgrims who have returned to the country from Iran has left for provinces after completing its 14-day quarantine period at the Taftan border. The details of these pilgrims will be provided to the provincial governments, which can test or place the pilgrims under quarantine again.

It was decided during the meeting that only three airports in the country — Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore — will be allowed to operate international flights, a move intended to reduce the entry points and ensure better arrangements there.

Mirza said all large public gatherings will be banned, including weddings and conferences, for a period of two weeks. Cinemas will also be closed while all remaining Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2020 matches will take place in empty stadiums.

The matter of whether religious congregations should be banned has been referred to the religious affairs minister and the chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology. They have been tasked with consulting with all stakeholders and give their advice to the government based on which a decision will be taken, Mirza said.

Schools closed
It was decided to close all educational institutions in the country for three weeks. Education minister Shafqat Mehmood tweeted that schools will remain shut until April 5.

Mirza said the government will also request the chief justice to close civil courts and adjourn cases for a period of three weeks. Judicial magistrates and judges of sessions courts will be requested to decide criminal cases within jails while relatives of prisoners will not be able to meet them for three weeks in jails.

A media campaign will be started to brief the public regarding coronavirus prevention measures and a system will be established to prevent misinformation and relay facts to the people from a "central" source.

Riaz Haq said…
#WHO: Pakistan facing major COVID-19 challenge but Pakistan has also demonstrated time and again with dengue, polio and other diseases how all of the government and society’s approaches can be made to work. #Coronavirus #Pakistan #WorldHealthOrganization

With Pakistan confirming seven new novel coronavirus cases, the World Health Organisation has warned that the country faces great challenge ahead to contain the viral outbreak.

The statement came at virtual press conference by WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Executive Director Dr Michael J Ryan, and Technical lead Dr Maria Van Kerkhove from a boardroom in Geneva late Friday.

Responding to a question by The Express Tribune on the epidemiological outlook for Pakistan, Dr Ryan said the country has great capacity in public health. “But there are also challenges,” he added. “Pakistan has a highly mobile population with mega cities and undeserved people.”

“So there is a great challenge facing Pakistan. But Pakistan has also demonstrated time and again with dengue, polio and other diseases how all of the government and society’s approaches can be made to work.”

Dr Ryan fondly remembered his time on the anti-polio campaign in Pakistan working with National Emergency Operations Coordinator Rana Safdar. “I have personally worked in Pakistan for the polio eradication for nearly three years,” he reminisced. “And [I] enjoyed my time working with some excellent Pakistani colleagues.”

The WHO executive director extended the body’s assistance and backed “fine public health servants” in the country to contain the outbreak.

Dr Kerkhove noted that Asian countries dealt with the outbreak aggressively and saw success. But she warned that even though the virus seemed to be slowing down, it may come back.

The WHO panel stated that it was ‘impossible’ to say when COVID-19 pandemic will peak.

Until the filing of this report, Pakistan’s tally of confirmed Covid-19 cases stood at 28 with 15 patients testing positive in Sindh, five in Gilgit-Baltistan, one in Balochistan and seven at the Taftan border.

All 28 patients are individuals with recent travel history.

Until Friday morning, at least 251 people had been tested in Sindh, 110 in Punjab, 30 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 18 in Balochistan, nine in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and 32 in G-B. So far Punjab, K-P, AJK and federal territories have not reported any confirmed case of the novel coronavirus.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) to cobble a unified approach to contain the outbreak.

The huddle was attended by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed provincial chief ministers, top advisors and cabinet members.

It was decided to close borders with Iran and Afghanistan, allow only three airports – Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore – to operate international flights in limited numbers while other airports will see domestic flights, and ban public gatherings.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has been tasked to coordinate with provincial governments and lead the fight against novel coronavirus. It was also decided to close all educational institutions until April 5.

In a first, the Pakistan Day parade on March 23 have also been cancelled.
Riaz Haq said…
Ticking Bomb of #Coronavirus? "..India will have a national disaster in a few weeks to months. SouthAsian nations have fragile & skimpy health management capacity in the best of times" #India has reported 102 cases, 2 deaths so far. #SouthAsia via @ozy

The world’s most densely populated region, South Asia is home to a quarter of the planet’s people, yet has so far reported just 169 cases, or a little more than one in every thousand of the total 156,000 patients globally. India has reported 102 cases, Pakistan 31, Afghanistan 11, Maldives 10, Sri Lanka 10, Bangladesh 3 and one each in Bhutan and Nepal. Two people — both in India — have died.

But growing evidence suggests that the virus is far more widespread in the region, sparking concerns among leading public health experts and virologists that South Asia might be a time bomb waiting to explode. The region’s countries have focused their prevention strategy on scrutiny of incoming travelers at their international airports. India, for instance, said in early March it had screened 650,000 arriving passengers over the previous five weeks. But it was watching the vast majority for visible symptoms, and fewer than 1 percent actually underwent tests. And several cases appear to have slipped past, coming to notice only later, after they had been in contact with dozens of people.

On March 8, the Kerala government declared three confirmed cases of the virus — people who had returned from Italy more than a week earlier. A 76-year-old American tourist was diagnosed with COVID-19 in Bhutan, after he had spent several days previously in India, traveling up the Brahmaputra river on a houseboat. Bangladesh’s first three cases of the coronavirus were all people who had recently returned from Italy but weren’t identified as positive at the airport. The cases in Pakistan too — all involving recent travel to Iran or Italy — weren’t detected at airports.

Last week, the Indian government suspended most visas for foreigners until April 15, a drastic step that appeared to acknowledge its failure in screening visitors at airports. It has also banned passengers and crew from all foreign cruise ships until March 31. And on Friday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on his other South Asian counterparts to prepare a joint regional strategy to combat the virus.


What makes the challenge even more acute in the region is the lack of adequate basic facilities such as personal protective equipment, ventilators or intensive care units, says John. That makes any move to random testing among communities, as a strategy, difficult for countries like those in South Asia. It also means that death rates among vulnerable populations — such as patients who also have pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome — could eventually prove higher in India than in the West, he adds.

A flood of misinformation over claimed cures that has swept the region is also worrying doctors and scientists. In India, some legislators have claimed cow urine and cow dung could heal you from the coronavirus — assertions with no scientific basis. India’s government has suggested that a cocktail of six herbs could help treat the virus. Meanwhile, in Sri Lanka, a misleading Facebook post suggested an incorrect way of wearing face masks.

The spread of misinformation, on top of the coronavirus, is a scenario South Asia — and the world — can ill afford.
Riaz Haq said…
Can Pakistan's 88% BCG vaccination rate against tuberculosis (TB) help reduce the impact of coronavirus? A New York Institute of Technology study using data from 178 countries has concluded that both the incidence and mortality of COVID-19 are significantly lower in countries with BCG vaccination programs against TB. Will this study help prove Dawn News' alarming forecast of over 2 million
confirmed cases by June 1 and 20 million actual infections wrong?

Scientists have speculated that BCG vaccine may boost the innate immune system not just against TB but also against a variety of other pathogens from invading the body or from establishing an infection. Here are some of the key findings of the study summarized below:

1. Countries that do not have a BCG vaccination policy against TB have seen 10X greater incidence and deaths from Covid-19 than the countries that do, according to a study of data from 178 countries by New York Institute of Technology researchers.

2. BCG, or Bacillus Calmette-Guérin, is a vaccine for tuberculosis (TB). It is administered at birth in many developing countries that have historically suffered from the disease, such as India and Pakistan. Most of the developed nations, including US, Italy and the Netherlands do not have universal TB vaccination programs. Japan is among the few developed OECD nations that still do. The East Asian nation had some of the earlier cases, but the mortality is low despite not having adopted some the more stringent social distancing rules.

3. The study looked at Covid-19 instances and mortality for 15 days between March 9 and 24 in 178 countries and concluded that incidence of Covid-19 was 38.4 per million in countries with BCG vaccination compared to 358.4 per million in the absence of such a program.

4. The death rate was 4.28 per million in countries with BCG programs compared to 40 per million in countries without such a program. Out of the 178 countries studied, 21 had no vaccination program, while the status was unclear in 26 countries. The latter group was treated as not having a policy for the purpose of this study.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan is leading the way with its #welfare state – the world can learn from its innovation. PM #ImranKhan's #Ehsaas initiative is one of the most comprehensive welfare programs ever by a national government. #EhsaasEmergencyCash via @Telegraph

This is why we should all be looking with particular interest at the work underway in Pakistan to build a sustainable welfare state. Called Ehsaas, which in Urdu literally means ‘empathy’, the new initiative is one of the most comprehensive welfare programmes ever undertaken by a national government, with an underlying ambition to create a social safety net for Pakistan that could transform the lives of millions. It is enormously wide-ranging and ambitious.


Despite some progress since the turn of the millennium, a quarter of people in Pakistan still live in poverty, with rates of rural poverty more than double those in urban areas. With one of the fastest growing populations in the world, Pakistan will have to create a million new jobs each year just to keep up with the number of young people entering the job market. Educational attainment is some of the worst in the region and health indicators are not promising, demonstrated by the fact that Pakistan is one of only two countries where the wild poliovirus remains endemic.

This is the context in which Ehsaas is seeking to end the cycle of poverty faced by many Pakistanis. Acknowledging that no single area will unlock this ambition alone, Ehsaas encompasses 134 policies that range from tackling corruption to creating educational opportunities to providing the elderly with decent homes.

The programme is led by Dr Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection, who has been mandated by Prime Minister Imran Khan to work in partnership across multiple federal ministries that these policies will be driven by, as well with provincial governments who have devolved powers including on education and health. Without a multisectoral approach, it would not be possible to create the welfare state envisioned by Ehsaas.

The launch of a countrywide public consultation was particularly important as it was the first time a public policy in Pakistan had been developed in this way and demonstrates a new level of openness and transparency. Ehsaas’s impact will hopefully go much further than the borders of Pakistan. It will provide many lessons for low-, middle- and high-income countries.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan's average daily per capita calorific intake was estimated by ADB at 2,440 kcal in 2013. Cereals accounted for 48% of daily calorific intake in 2013. Calorific intake from animal sources comprised 22%, while fruit and vegetables accounted for 2%. The average daily per capita protein consumption was estimated at 65.5 grams, while the average dietary energy supply adequacy was estimated to be 108% in 2015-2017.

Approximately 46% of agricultural production comes from the cropping sector, compared with 54% from livestock. Buffalo meat was the single most valuable commodity produced in Pakistan in 2016 at around $9.8 billion. Other important commodities produced included buffalo's milk ($9.4 billion), wheat ($7.4 billion), beef ($5.5 billion), cotton ($3.3 billion), and chicken meat ($3.2 billion).

Sugarcane was the largest crop produced with 65 million tons in 2016. Other important products included wheat (26 million tons), rice (10.2 million tons), maize (6.1 million tons), and cotton (5.3 million tons). Around 4.5 million tons of fertilizers were used in Pakistan in 2016, and a further 913,000 tons were imported into the country that year.

Pakistan's livestock sub-sector, on the other hand, has demonstrated steady growth, especially in the face of increasing demand for livestock products due to a growing and rapidly urbanized population.

The country's livestock sub-sector represents approximately 56% of value addition in agriculture and employs roughly 30 million people. Despite the increased production of poultry products, its external trade is low and has not realized the potential experienced in other livestock sub-sectors. In 2016, total poultry exports were valued at $2.7 million.

Pakistan imported $7.1 billion worth of agricultural goods in 2016, compared with $3.7 billion in agricultural exports. Pakistan's main agricultural export commodities were rice ($1.7 billion), wheat flour ($173 million), tangerines and mandarins ($158 million), beef ($155 million), sugar ($123 million), and dates ($103 million). Palm oil was Pakistan's main food import at $1.7 billion, followed by cotton lint ($581 million), tea ($490 million), rapeseed ($464 million), soybeans ($383 million), and coffee ($329 million).
Riaz Haq said…
Highlights (food security, nutrition and health conditions)

• Pakistan’s food security and nutrition status has much room to improve (slide 12).
• In 2015–2017, one-fifth (20.5 percent) of its population was undernourished; the percentage
was higher than the Southern Asian average (15.2 percent), the Asian average (11.5 percent)
and the world average (10.8 percent).
• In 2012, 45.0 percent of children in Pakistan were stunted (chronic malnutrition); the
percentage was higher than the Southern Asian average of 37.9 percent, the Asian average of
27.1 percent and the world average of 24.9 percent.
• In 2016, 52.1 percent of Pakistan’s women of reproductive age (15–49 years) were anaemic; the
percentage was much higher than the world average (32.8 percent).
• Pakistan’s total protein intake increased from 59.4 g/day per capita in 1993 to 65.5 g/day in 2013
(slide 13). Its 65.5 g/day per capita total protein intake in 2013 was slightly higher than the Southern
Asian average (61.7 g/day), yet much lower than the world average (81.2 g/day) (slide 14).
• Pakistan’s life expectancy at birth in 2017 was 67 years (68 years for women and 66 years for men),
which was lower than the Southern Asian average (69 years), the Asian average (73 years), the
developing regions average (71 years) and the world average of 72 years at that time (slide 15).

Pakistan: 20.5 percent of the population (nearly 40 million people) were undernourished in
the mid-2010s – the percentage was higher than the Southern Asian average (15.2 percent),
Asian average (11.5 percent) and world average (10.8 percent); a large proportion (45 percent
in 2012) of children were stunted.

Pakistan: Total protein intake increased from 59.4 g/day per capita in 1993
to 65.5 g/day per capita in 2013; the share of animal protein in total protein
increased from 33.4 percent to 41.6 percent, yet the share of fish and
seafood declined from 1.3 percent to 0.9 percent.

Pakistan’s total protein intake in 2013 was 65.5 g/day per capita, slightly higher than the Southern Asian
average (61.7 g) but only 80 percent of the world average (81.2 g); its animal protein was 41.6 percent of
total protein, slightly higher than the world average (39.6 percent) and much higher than the Southern
Asian average (22.5 percent); its fish protein was 0.9 percent of total protein, much lower than the
Southern Asian average (3.1 percent) and world average (6.5 percent).

Pakistan: In 2017, life expectancy at birth was 67 years, lower than the Southern Asian
average (69), developing regions average (71) and world average (72); women are
expected to live longer than men in Pakistan (68 years versus 66 years).

Highlights (contribution of fish to food and nutrition)
• Pakistan’s 27.3 g/day per capita animal protein intake in 2013 was slightly lower than the world average
(32.1 g/day) but twice as much as the Southern Asian average (13.9 g/day) (slide 18), yet fish
contributed only 2.2 percent of the country’s animal protein intake in 2013 (slide 19), declining from
3.8 percent in 1993 (slide 20), much lower than the Southern Asian average (13.7 percent) and world
average (16.3 percent) (slide 19).
• In 2013, 82.8 percent of Pakistan’s fish production was food fish for direct human consumption, and
17.2 percent was for non-food uses (slide 21).
• In 2013, 98.8 percent of Pakistan’s food fish supply was from domestic production, and food fish import
accounted for 1.2 percent (slide 21).
• In 2013, 67.1 percent of Pakistan’s food fish utilization was for domestic consumption, and 32.9 percent
was for export (slide 21).
• Only one-third of the increase in Pakistan’s food fish supply during 1993–2013 went to domestic
consumption; the other two-thirds were accounted for by net export. The 28 percent increase in total
fish consumption during the period is only half of the 56 percent growth in its population, resulting in a
decline in its per capita fish consumption from 2.8 kg in 1993 to 1.9 kg in 2013 (slide 22).
Riaz Haq said…
Estimation of Per Capita Food Consumption Patterns and Related Poverty
in Swat villege of Kabal in Pakistan

To analyze the per capita food consumption and related poverty, village Kabal a rural area of district Swat, Pakistan was selected. The average household size, based on 100 households was estimated as 6.5. It appears that on average an adult equivalent takes 372.51 g of flour, 74.68 g of meat, 70.29 g of rice, 177.12 g of vegetables, 28.31 g of pulses, 66.39 g of fruits, 166.34 g of milk, 53.60 g of fats, 6.76 g of black tea, and 73.21 g of sugar daily. Moreover, an average household spends Rs.16714.45 of their monthly income on food consumption. An individual member (adult-equivalent) of the surveyed household takes food, yielding 2857.27 calories per day. Since an adult person needs 2350 calories daily to live a normal life, this level is thus considered as the base to determine whether a person is on, above or below the poverty line. Based on average calorie intake, the surveyed households are found, on average, above poverty line (PL=1.2). The poverty status of the households surveyed shows that out of 100 households studied, 68.3% are above, 23.31% below, and 8.39% on the poverty line.


Pakistan has made significant progress in increasing the per capita
availability of all major food items like cereals, meat, milk, sugar, and
eggs over time. Seasonal vegetables like cabbage, brinjal, ladyfinger,
onion, cucumber, better guard, tomato etc. [2]. Population with high
income consume more beef, mutton, poultry, and fruits. In pulses
mung, masoor, beans, and g while in tea black tea and green tea and
milk are the pillar of food consumption in rural and urban population
of Pakistan as a result, the average per capita calorie intake increased
from 2078 in 1949-50 to 2450 in 2012-13. Similar trends have been
reported for protein and fats
Riaz Haq said…
Per capita nutrition supply in India among the lowest in the world

When demand is low, an increase in local production need not translate into increased availability as a larger portion of the produce may be exported. In India’s case, it also depends on changes in government stocks. The Economic Survey show that net cereal production has hardly changed at 465gm per person per day from 2000 to 2013. However, per capita availability of cereals has increased from 422gm in 2000 to 468gm in 2013. However, it was largely a function of changes in government stocks. In the previous two years, availability of cereals was lower at about 410gm per person per day.

The average Indian had access to 2,455 kcal per day with protein and fat availability at 60gm and 52.1gm, respectively, according to OECD. This is far lower than the at least 3,000 kcal per day availability for OECD nations. Things have also not improved since the beginning of this century (see chart 3). Factors such as wastage of stocks are also to blame for poor availability. For instance, Food Corporation of India data show 3,000 tonnes of foodgrains were damaged in 2015-16. In 2014-15, quantity of damaged grains stood at 19,000 tonnes .
Riaz Haq said…
In this (coronavirus) race, Pakistan also joined on February 26, 2020 when a citizen entered the border with Iran. Public transportation is found more than other borders on this border, because Shia people travel to the place of Karbala through Iran for visitors. After China, Iran was suffering from this disease thousands of visitors were standing in front of the interior doors of Pakistan. The first case spread a wave of concern within the provincial governments with government members. The lack was showing an increase in the anxiety of the higher authorities. But one of the charismas of power was that in 23 days less than 1,000 people were affected, while the number reached thousands in the United States and China.

After a month, the number reached about 1600. Pakistan was divided into seven parts regionally, in which the number of confirmed cases in Punjab is 2171, sindh 1036, Khyber pakhtunkhwa 560, gilgit-baltistan 213, balochistan 212, Islamabad 102 and azad Kashmir have registered 28 cases. According to the government database, confirmed cases 4322, the number of healthy patients are 572 and the number of worried people is 31. The number of people who are living in poverty is 63. The number of people working in the daily wages is limited to home. All sources of trade and global transportation have been closed. The government has stopped the country to prevent it .I understood the lockdown as a result of which the spread of the virus was considerably lower than other countries.

The positive case on the border of Tiftan created such a wave of fear that life took place in the snow. The people who were surrounded by people were also looking for food. The streets of the desert business became a jam. All the businesses were stuck except for food items.The Pakistani economy has suffered a loss of 30 billion Pakistani rupees. The country’s deficit of $180 to 185 million is also in view of the lockdown. The deficit is touching the sky, but 13 million people will lose jobs. 3 to 5 million people will suffer structural unemployment.

The rate of unemployment will increase by 45-50 percent. In this war from the house to the youth, everyone is divided into the next front. From the crowd to the mosques, the ban was applied. The people of the army and the police vehicles are forcing the people to stay confined to the houses. After the implementation of section 144, the market is deserted and the human being is showing trouble. To avoid the shortage of food, the government has approved the budget of the largest country of 1200 billion.Which includes deserving and working on daily wages. In the foreign aid, Pakistani friend China took the most part. $40 million was announced by the government of China. With 12000 test kits, 30000 fee masks and 10000 safety suits are also included.

The social worker and alibaba foundation sent 50 thousand test kits and 50 thousand masks to the Pakistani people. $4 million Chinese aid will be spent on establishing hospitals and qarntina centers and completing medical accessories. In view of the situation, the Pakistani nation’s war along with Karina Empty stomach and salafis are also from masters who look at their facebook or twitter account information in exchange for a mask in street coaches, where they are seen to be stopped to take help with the poor. 1 crore 20 lakh families will be sponsored for rs 4,000 a month. You have to use the network 3 times for government assistance, you have to spend about 7 to 8 rupees for this stage yet 4 Rs 30 lakh 44 thousand 60 SMS has been received.

Riaz Haq said…
March 16, 2020—Aisha Yousafzai, associate professor of global health (at Harvard University), is the principal investigator of two large randomized controlled trials focused on early childhood development in Pakistan—Pakistan Early Child Development Scale-Up (PEDS) and Youth Leaders for Early Childhood Assuring Children are Prepared for School (LEAPS).

What do you see as policy and research priorities in early childhood development?

We know that young children need good health, proper nutrition, and early learning opportunities. But they also need security and stability. It’s important that they have consistent caregivers in early life who they can trust and rely on. When children don’t have these things, it can be harmful to their development and impact their health and future prospects.

Policies that support families and help children thrive include investing in parenting programs and ensuring access to good quality, affordable child care and parental leave. And we should not be separating children from their caregivers who provide safe stable nurturing care.

We still need to better understand what works for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children, such as those living through a humanitarian crisis. It’s not enough to focus just on the immediate emergency phase. We need to address the long-term needs of these children and their families. Another understudied population is children with developmental delays and disabilities. We need to look at how to strengthen health care systems to address their needs.

What results have you found from PEDS and LEAPS?

In the PEDS trial, we wanted to see if Pakistan’s Lady Health Workers (LHW) program—which provides home visits to promote health and nutrition in mothers and young children—could also effectively promote children’s development. Community health worker interventions like the LHW program were set up in recent decades in low- and middle-income countries to promote child survival. Now that we are seeing improvements in child survival in many countries, we need to think about how these programs can deliver interventions beyond survival that help children thrive.

For this study, we adapted a curriculum developed by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, and evaluated it in a randomized controlled trial. Results were favorable up to age two, and some of the benefits to children’s cognitive-language and motor development were sustained at age four.

But alarm bells were raised when we saw that only about a quarter of children in rural communities had access to preschool—and even those who did weren’t necessarily getting quality education.

That challenged us to think about the continuity of services for children, from the first 1,000 days of life to the early years of education and beyond. We developed a way to address the need for better preschool in Pakistan that also helped fill a gap in training and employment for young women. Working with Pakistan’s National Commission on Human Development, we established a training program for women ages 18–24 to become preschool teachers (LEAPS) and placed trainees in villages with no established preschool services.

Our pilot found that this program provided a good school readiness benefit for children as well as a boost to youth employment. Now, we’re scaling up across four districts, and also looking at how well the country’s education system is able to absorb this intervention.
Riaz Haq said…
#WorldBank to aid #Pakistan in creating new model for non-formal #education that combines #literacy, #labor #market skills, life #skills development for uneducated and illiterate children, youth and young adults in selected districts of #Punjab and #Sindh

The government has been developing the new roadmap for the country’s education system under the new leadership since the summer of 2018. The education ministry at federal level and education departments at provincial levels have unanimously said that out-of-school children is one of the critical issues that needs to be addressed.

The proposed project will be built on the existing initiatives on out-of-school children, supported by development partners including Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), USAID, and Unicef, and it will be implemented in collaborative efforts with these agencies.

Despite the urgency of the issues, the federal and provincial governments’ interventions on non-formal education is limited. Due to the daunting challenges in the public education, the government’ emphasis of educational development is on improving the public education systems.

While the governments mainly aim to address out-of-school children by increasing access to and retention in public education, there are still service delivery gaps which results in out-of-school children. The proposed interventions are to fill in the gaps.

The project is also aligned with the international agenda including the Susta­inable Development Goals (SDGs).

The government’s priority on addressing out-of-school children has been aligned with the SDG targets and is supported by the development partners.

The project will offer Accelerated Learning Programmes (ALPs) to out-of-school children at primary school age (age eight to 10 years) and secondary school age (age 10-16 years) through a non-formal education model with the aim to facilitate mainstreaming of those children to the formal school system.

In Pakistan, primary schools accept new students at age five to seven years, and children at age eight and above typically find it difficult to enter formal primary schools.

To support those who miss the entry to primary schools, the ALP primary (ALP-P) has been developed including curricula, corresponding teaching and learning materials, and systems for training and assessment.

The programme has been approved in Punjab and Sindh provinces under Literacy Department (LD) and School Education and Literacy Department (SELD) respectively.

The project will conduct a rapid survey of out-of-school children and conduct enrollment and awareness campaigns in the villages.

The programme allows children to complete five years of the primary education with approximate 1,250 hours of learning, which usually take 24 to 36 months depending on the set up of Non-Formal Education (NFE) service delivery. Students will be able to sit in the class fifth School Leaving Examination upon the completion of the program and officially obtain a class fifth certificate.
Riaz Haq said…
Bilawal repeats challenge to govt on hospitals

Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Wednesday repeated his challenge to the government on hospitals saying that it had been 72 hours since he had challenged the PTI to name a government hospital on a par with the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) they have made in last nine years.

Bilawal tweeted his challenge and said he was still awaiting a response from the PTI to name any government hospital, which they had built in last nine years.

"It’s been 72 hours since I challenged PTI to name ONE government hospital they have made in the last 9 years that can compete with any of the hospitals they are trying to steal from Sindh; like NICVD. Still waiting.”

He also posted the pictures of 10 hospitals across Sindh which provide free of cost treatment to all including the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, Karachi; Chest Pain Unit, Lyari; NICVD, Khairpur; NICVD, Tando Muhammad Khan; NICVD, Mithi; NICVD Larkana; NICVD, Nawabshah, NICVD, Sujjur; NICVD, Sehwan; and NIVCD, Hyderabad.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan Literacy rate increased by only 2pc in last four years

Pakistan has not made any tangible improvement in literacy rate which increased only 2pc during the last four years and at present stands at 60pc.

“A literacy rate of only 60pc considerably limits opportunities towards acquiring skills and technical knowledge for higher productivity and better-earning levels,” says Economic Survey released on Thursday.

It said according to the Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement (PSLM) Survey 2018-19, the literacy rate of the population (10 years and above) is 60pc compared to 58pc in 2015-16.

“The literacy rate is higher in urban areas (74pc) than in rural areas (51pc),” read the survey. Province-wise analysis suggests that Punjab has the highest literacy rate with 64pc followed by Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (excluding the merged tribal areas) with 57pc, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (including merged areas) with 55pc and Balochistan with 40pc.

The Economic Survey said large investments in education access and quality are required to obtain the objective of educated and skilled human resources, along with comprehensive planning, removal of gender inequalities, and enforcing more accountability in the sector.

Education plays a leading role in improving the economic condition of the country and is a vital investment for human and economic development.

The survey while pointing out overall assessment in education sector said that overall education situation based on institutes, and teachers, have shown a slight improvement. It said the total number of enrolments during 2017-18 was recorded at 51 million compared to 47.6 million during the same period last year, which shows an increase of 7.1pc.

The survey while highlighting uniform education system, said that present government is making efforts to introduce single national curriculum with the aim to eliminate the disparity between curriculums, facilities, medium of instruction, and have a fair and equal opportunity for all children to receive a high-quality education.

Phase-I of single national curriculum (for class 1-5) has been developed, and its implementation would be completed by March 2021. Similarly, phase-II of single national curriculum (for class 6-8) would be ready by March 2021 and implemented by March 2022, while the phase-III curriculum (for class 9-12) would be ready by March 2022 and implemented by March 2023.

While discussing, Net Enrolment Rates Net Enrolment Rates (NER), primary level refers to the number of students enrolled in primary schools of age 6 to 10 yea group, the survey said that NRE saw slight improvement as it was 66pc in 2015-16 and now for year 2018-19 it was recorded 66pc.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #Ehsaas program funding raised from Rs144bn to Rs203bn to soften #COVID19 impact on poor. “It means that almost half of the population of the country will be covered under the program,” says program chief Dr Sania Nishtar- DAWN.COM

Amid adverse impact of the coronavirus on the poor and people belonging to low-income groups, the government has decided to enhance the Ehsaas Emergency Cash programme from Rs144 billion to Rs203bn.

Under the first phase of the programme [of Rs144 billion] 12 million families were provided four-month stipend of Rs12,000. Now with the increase in its funds the programme will facilitate around 17m families.

“It means that almost half of the population of the country will be covered under the programme,” said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Safety and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar at a press conference on Thursday.

“The scope of emergency cash programme has been expanded to reach out to around 16.9 million deserving families with the increased budget of Rs203 billion,” she added.

Accompanied by Information Minister Shibli Faraz, the SAPM said initially the programme was launched on April 9 with a budget of Rs144 billion for 12 million beneficiaries.

She, however, said 12.86 million beneficiaries across the country had so far received one-time cash assistance of Rs155.64bn through emergency cash initiative as in addition to Rs144bn over Rs10bn was distributed through other resources, including the Prime Minister Corona Fund.

“The government’s largest social protection programme, Ehsaas, has taken the lead in radically expanding social safety nets to help mitigate effects of Covid-19 within Pakistan,” she added.

Terming the programme a big success of the government, she said the programme was fully transparent, rule and merit based, and apolitical. “Sindh gains the most from this programme which shows its apolitical nature,” she said while giving an indirect reply to the allegation made by the ruling party in Sindh, Pakistan Peoples Party, that the province had been ignored and its people had not benefited from the scheme.

She said as compared to initiatives taken in other countries, the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme gained international recognition for disbursing in time cash assistance in a well organised manner and at a larger scale.

Dr Nishtar said digital capabilities developed over the past year as part of the Ehsaas strategy had positively been adopted in making emergency cash payments.

“Requests were sought through an SMS short code service; data analytics enabled eligibility ascertainment, using unique national identification numbers and drawing on the National Socioeconomic Registry and wealth proxies (travel, taxes, billing, assets ownership data and government employment status), and payments are biometrically verified,” she explained the process of payments made under the programme.

The beneficiaries who were eligible but facing problems in withdrawing money owing to faulty biometric identification were being paid out exclusively in the designated bank branches of partner banks.

Similarly, to ease out the payment process for families of deceased beneficiaries, Ehsaas has adopted a procedure under which the families of deceased beneficiaries are required to send out an application in her name (Dr Sania Nishtar) with Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) details of their dead family member along with those of eligible family member straight to Ehsaas offices at Islamabad.

Ms Nishtar said Ehsaas has also launched ‘Ehsaas Emergency Cash — Know Your Status’ Portal to offer an easy window to people registered with Ehsaas Emergency Cash to check their eligibility. “All applicants who have registered themselves through 8171 or Prime Minister’s Labour Portal can now easily check their eligibility status by entering CNIC number on the portal,” she added.
Riaz Haq said…
WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 7 September 2020

Pakistan deployed the infrastructure built up over many years for polio to combat COVID-19. Community health workers who have been trained to go door-to-door vaccinating children for polio have been utilized for surveillance, contact tracing and care.

There are many other examples we could give, including Cambodia, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Senegal, Spain, Viet Nam and more.

Many of these countries have done well because they learned lessons from previous outbreaks of SARS, MERS, measles, polio, Ebola, flu and other diseases.

That’s why it’s vital that we all learn the lessons this pandemic is teaching us.

Although Germany’s response was strong, it is also learning lessons.

I welcome the announcement by Chancellor Angela Merkel over the weekend that her government will invest 4 billion euros by 2026 to strengthen Germany’s public health system.

I call on all countries to invest in public health, and especially in primary health care, and follow Germany’s example.
Riaz Haq said…
Social Safety Program Amid COVID19 Pandemic:

India is able to reach a high percentage of households through the combination of multiple programs including food rations, pensions, LPG cooking gas subsidies, food-for-work programs, farmer subsidies and making transfers to holders of Aadhaar-linked Jan Dhan accounts. Already, this approach appears to have been able to support quite a high proportion of poor households by scaling up food rations and various financial transfers. Initial survey results suggest that the system has provided material assistance, although some difficulties have been reported in cashing out payments and using the funds to purchase supplies.

In addition to the federal government, many states have announced their own programs to help people who fall through the system, especially migrants. But states face hard budget constraints due to expenditure ceilings imposed by the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act. Although the central government has allowed states to borrow up to 50 percent of their yearly credit needs upfront, the current uncertainty may prevent them from significantly expanding the range, scope, and scale of social assistance programs.

Lessons so far: The architecture of direct benefit transfers and JAM facilitates both scale-up and portability of benefits. But it is not possible to get an integrated view across programs which hinders coordination between the central and state-level initiatives. Many people fall through the cracks, especially migrants whose place of current residence does not match their registration location. In crises that disrupt supply chains there is an important role for efficient in-kind systems, but these have to be designed to ensure portability across states.

Building on the platform for BISP, the main social safety net program, Pakistan has announced a major scaleup of financial assistance to people affected by COVID-19. The Ehsaas Emergency Cash program distributes cash to 12 million families whose livelihood is severely impacted by the pandemic or its aftermath. People apply for the benefits through mobile phones. Their claim is assessed, which can include a check against databases, linking records with the national ID number. If they are approved, they can collect their benefit, after biometric authentication, at one of 17,000 cash disbursement centers that have been set up. From its inception in early April, cash has reportedly reached about one quarter of those entitled to the transfer, indicating a significant degree of state capacity to scale up transfers quickly.

Lessons so far: Pakistan is able to use its ID system and mobiles to initiate a large-scale centrally managed transfer program to uniquely identified and verified recipients. Because of the links with the National Socio-Economic Register and several other databases, the government can apply a range of exclusion rules to help target the transfers without making beneficiaries go through time-consuming application and verification procedures. Drawing on its past experience disbursing flood relief in 2007, Pakistan is also using mobile technology to offer recipients a choice of providers, although special payment points are needed because of low financial inclusion. It is not known how easily people are able to purchase supplies with their financial grants.

Bangladesh has announced a range of programs but has not yet begun to implement them, and faces questions on how it will proceed. Some programs will be able to disburse through mobile money accounts, but many will not. There are also questions about the resilience of the mobile agent network: many agents provide service as a side business while their main income is from small shops, including in markets. They may not find it worthwhile to offer cash-out services if they are not able to open for normal business.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan Polio Eradication Program:

All cases in 2019 came from districts Balochistan (nine cases), Punjab (five cases), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (61 cases) and Sindh (nine cases). Cases have been associated with poor vaccine coverage, with rates as low as 35% in Balochistan province. Vaccine refusals partially due to spread of false information within a community, community campaign fatigue and poor vaccine implementation are potential reasons for exacerbation of cases. In addition, three-dose coverage of OPV is highly variable among provinces in Pakistan. The status of polio eradication in Pakistan has serious implications for the success of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

During this time period, surveillance for both AFP cases and contaminated environmental sites has increased. Systemic sewage testing was performed at 60 sites, and 45% tested positive for WPV1 in 2019 compared with 15% in 2018 and 16% in 2017. Prior nonreservoir sites, especially in districts with detected human cases, tested positive for WPV1.

Due to this increase in cases, supplemental immunization activities have been implemented, particularly in high-risk districts. As of August 2019, 19,274 community health care providers have been deployed to 15 districts, including along official border crossings with Afghanistan and major domestic transportation routes. The Pakistan polio eradication program has performed several management, communication, community involvement and epidemiologic reviews to identify gaps to improve vaccine compliance and interrupt WPV1 transmission.

Although no cases in travelers have been reported in the U.S. since 1993, clinicians should remain vigilant and obtain travel histories in patients who present with AFP symptoms.
Riaz Haq said…
WHO Credits Pakistan's Community Health Program For Success Against COVID19

Pakistan Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) has been on the frontline in the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic ever since its assets — including surveillance, data, and communication capabilities — were rerouted by the government in March 2020. Their surveillance system has been adopted for COVID-19 contact tracing, tracking the disease’s spread, and creating awareness on prevention and containment. Active surveillance for influenza-like illness (ILI), severe acute respiratory infections (SARI), and suspected COVID-19 cases has been integrated into the ongoing acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) active and passive surveillance system used in the fight against polio. For contact tracing to work, the community needs to be involved. Since polio staff are already trained for door-to-door campaigns and carrying out risk perception in the community, it is now mobilizing defense against the fast-spreading virus. “We have found significant positives amongst those traced via contact tracing and thus it has impacted on reducing further spread via self isolation, education and sensitization of the contacts,” said Dr. Sultan. “Quantification is sometimes not easy, but is being analyzed to see if a numerical value could be assigned with confidence.”
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan Reading Project declared int’l literacy program of year

The United States Library of Congress Friday announced the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) literacy programme, “Pakistan Reading Project,” as the 2020 recipient of the International Literacy Programme of the Year.

According to a press statement issued here by the US Embassy, over the past seven years, and working in tandem with Pakistani education officials, USAID’s Pakistan Reading Project has improved the reading skills of 1.7 million Pakistani students by delivering reading instructional materials to classrooms, training teachers in new instruction techniques, and encouraging schools to dedicate more classroom time for reading.

This early grade literacy project has also worked closely with the government of Pakistan to improve policies and systems for early grade reading across national, provincial, and local levels, said the statement.

“We’re very honoured and pleased that the Pakistan Reading Project is this year’s Library of Congress recipient of this International Literacy Award,” said USAID/Pakistan Mission Director Julie Koenen.

“The programme has proved to be a cornerstone of our partnership with Pakistan in education by increasing the literacy rates across the country and improving the reading of so many Pakistani students,” said Koenen.

In 2013, the Library of Congress created the Literacy Awards to honour organizations working to promote literacy and reading in the United States and internationally. The project’s implementing partner, the International Relief Committee, will receive $50,000 from the Library of Congress for winning this.


Pakistan Reading Project’s strategy is threefold: improve learning environments for reading in the classroom, advance policies and systems for reading instruction and rally community-based support for reading. In doing so, the project intends to reach 1.3 million students in grades one and two with reading interventions, not to mention training more than 23,000 teachers in reading instruction and developing reading curricula for more than 100 collegiate teaching programs.

From scholarships and grants for students pursuing teaching degrees to mobile bus libraries that bring books directly to children and their communities, the Pakistan Reading Program aims to comprehensively integrate reading into the lives of Pakistani children. The holistic approach of incorporating reading into both the institutional and communal lives of Pakistanis ensures the sustainability of the project’s efforts. In this way, children in Pakistan will be developmentally prepared for educational challenges they will face throughout their lives and consequently better able to pursue their goals and break from the cycle of poverty.
Riaz Haq said…
Human Development Report 2020
The Next Frontier:
Human Development and the Anthropocene
Briefing note for countries on the 2020 Human Development Report

My reading: Deep in the report in table F they show the extreme income poverty of 3.9% in Pakistan, the lowest in South Asia region. Income poverty in India is 21.2% and Bangladesh 14.8%. The average for South Asia is 18.2%.

Pakistan’s HDI value for 2019 is 0.557— which put the country in the medium human development
category—positioning it at 154 out of 189 countries and territories.
Between 1990 and 2019, Pakistan’s HDI value increased from 0.402 to 0.557, an increase of 38.6 percent.
Table A reviews Pakistan’s progress in each of the HDI indicators. Between 1990 and 2019, Pakistan’s
life expectancy at birth increased by 7.2 years, mean years of schooling increased by 2.9 years and
expected years of schooling increased by 3.7 years. Pakistan’s GNI per capita increased by about 64.1
percent between 1990 and 2019.


The 2010 Human Development Report introduced the MPI, which identifies multiple overlapping
deprivations suffered by individuals in 3 dimensions: health, education and standard of living. The health
and education dimensions are based on two indicators each, while standard of living is based on six
indicators. All the indicators needed to construct the MPI for a country are taken from the same
household survey. The indicators are weighted to create a deprivation score, and the deprivation scores
are computed for each individual in the survey. A deprivation score of 33.3 percent (one-third of the
weighted indicators) is used to distinguish between the poor and nonpoor. If the deprivation score is
33.3 percent or greater, the household (and everyone in it) is classified as multidimensionally poor.
Individuals with a deprivation score greater than or equal to 20 percent but less than 33.3 percent are
classified as vulnerable to multidimensional poverty. Finally, individuals with a deprivation score greater
than or equal to 50 percent live in severe multidimensional poverty.
Since 2018, HDRO and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative jointly produce and
publish the MPI estimates. The latest release from July 2020 covers 107 developing countries (countries
that lack survey data that allow for the calculation of the MPI are not included): ‘Charting pathways out
of multidimensional poverty: Achieving the SDGs’ (also available in French and Spanish). Definitions of
deprivations in each indicator, as well as methodology of the MPI are given in Technical note 5.
Continuing with the practice from the previous years, HDRO is making public the statistical programs
used in the calculation of the 2020 MPI for a large selection of countries (see
The most recent survey data that were publicly available for Pakistan’s MPI estimation refer to
2017/2018. In Pakistan, 38.3 percent of the population (81,352 thousand people) are multidimensionally
poor while an additional 12.9 percent are classified as vulnerable to multidimensional poverty (27,419
thousand people). The breadth of deprivation (intensity) in Pakistan, which is the average deprivation
score experienced by people in multidimensional poverty, is 51.7 percent. The MPI, which is the share
of the population that is multidimensionally poor, adjusted by the intensity of the deprivations, is 0.198.
Bangladesh and India have MPIs of 0.104 and 0.123, respectively.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan’s Ehsaas program

Welcome to the collision of Riyasat-e-Medina with 21st century public policy tools. In the largest cash transfer in Pakistan’s history, 15 million Pakistani households received Rs12,000 each during Covid-19 without a whiff of corruption. That’s around 100 million Pakistanis benefiting if you multiply by size of household (roughly half the country’s population). Beneficiaries were identified through data rather than political patronage (with opposition-run Sindh benefiting the most from a PTI government programme). This revolution will not be televised or tweeted because the beneficiaries of Ehsaas don’t have a voice in the public square. But this is a real revolution — a revolution for the people.


Welcome to the collision of Riyasat-e-Medina with 21st century public policy tools. In the largest cash transfer in Pakistan’s history, 15 million Pakistani households received Rs12,000 each during Covid-19 without a whiff of corruption. That’s around 100 million Pakistanis benefiting if you multiply by size of household (roughly half the country’s population). Beneficiaries were identified through data rather than political patronage (with opposition-run Sindh benefiting the most from a PTI government programme). This revolution will not be televised or tweeted because the beneficiaries of Ehsaas don’t have a voice in the public square. But this is a real revolution — a revolution for the people.
And this is only one slice of Ehsaas. Here’s some more flavour: two million underprivileged families with a disabled person will receive Rs2000 stipend a month; 80,000 interest-free loans are being given every month, over four years, half of them reserved for women, to help them start new businesses and graduate out of poverty; and 50,762 undergraduate scholarships have been given to deserving students so far, with the number expected to go up to 200,000 students over four years.
Additionally, let’s talk about an education conditional cash transfer programme that provides stipend to underprivileged families to encourage their children to go to school. Children of poorest families are provided conditional cash grants of Rs1,500 for boy child and Rs2,000 for girl child per quarter on fulfilment of 70% attendance in school. Payments are made biometrically to mothers of children.
Ehsaas Amdan is a programme through which assets are given to the deserving (60% women) to enable them to graduate out of poverty. For the purpose of this programme, assets include livestock (goats, cows, buffaloes and poultry), agricultural inputs, body of Chingchi rickshaws, and inputs for small retail outlets and small enterprises. Amdan is being implemented in 25 of the poorest districts across the four provinces of Pakistan. More than a million people will benefit from this four-year programme.
Riaz Haq said…
The project approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) includes Rs45 billion for new healthcare facilities, Rs7 billion for national health surveillance, Rs13 billion water sanitation, hygiene as well as interventions in less developed areas, said Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Asad Umar.

Besides the healthcare project, the economic body also approved several projects regarding infrastructural and human development, education and water resources worth around Rs209 billion.

Focus on heath amid pandemic
Pakistan is investing in stronger health systems after the coronavirus pandemic unveiled the shortcomings of the country’s health system. The government’s focus is on strengthening the health system and engaging communities to protect people from future health threats. Pakistan government has also allocated $250 million initial funds for the purchase of the COVID-19 vaccine and has announced to provide coronavirus vaccines free of charge to its citizens.

Universal health coverage
Prime Minister Imran Khan has vowed to improve healthcare spending and also announced universal health coverage for all citizens for the first time in Pakistan. The programme, first initiated in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in 2020, would soon be extended to other provinces. Under the universal health insurance programme, each family would be entitled to medical treatment of up to Rs1 million ($6,000) a year at over 250 government and private hospitals across Pakistan.

“The development of the Universal Health Coverage benefit Package of Pakistan and its implementation will become the cornerstone of health reforms across Pakistan” believes PM’s Special Assistant on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan.


The government plans to establish 48 nutrition centres under its Ehsaas programme to overcome common health problems like stunting, underweight and overweight in children under five years of age, especially in under-developed and poor areas of the country.

Under this programme, nutrition/health services and conditional cash transfers will be made available to mothers and children. In the beginning, these centres will be set up in 13 districts.

This was decided at a meeting of the Ehsaas Na­­shonuma (nutrition) Steer­ing Committee presided over by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on So­­cial Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar here on Monday.

The meeting was informed that the programme was being implemented in partnership with the World Food Programme and provincial governments. The participants of the meeting discussed issues related to coordination between the parties which will implement the programme and how to effectively address the issue of undergrowth and malnutrition in the country.

The meeting was infor­med that it is a three-year programme which delivers conditional cash transfers to vulnerable pregnant women, mothers and children under five and provide them specialised nutritious food, immunisations and health-awareness sessions.

Representatives from the federal and provincial ministries, Foreign Commonwealth and Deve­lopment Office, Wor­­­­­ld Bank, World Food Pro­gramme, Wor­ld Health Orga­nisation, Asian Develo­p­ment Bank and Unicef atten­ded the meeting. Nutri­tion under the Ehsaas progra­mme aims to support multi-sectoral stra­tegies through poor-friendly programmes by targeting mothers and children.
Riaz Haq said…
How Pakistan is Using Moringa Tree to Alleviate Malnutrition

As part of an ongoing project in Pakistan’s Sindh province, efforts are underway to integrate a uniquely nutritious and drought-resistant tree called Moringa, into the local diet to help alleviate malnutrition. Muhammad Saqib has details from Matiari in Sindh province in this report narrated by Bezhan Hamdard.


Moringa contains many healthful compounds such as:

vitamin A
vitamin B1 (thiamine)
B2 (riboflavin)
B3 (niacin), B-6
folate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
It is also extremely low in fats and contains no harmful cholesterol.
Riaz Haq said…
Growing moringa to cure malnutrition in Sindh

Plant nursery managers in Sindh have started to understand the growing demand and importance of moringa (oleifera) tree, because of its nutritional and medicinal value.

Nursery managers collect moringa seeds from neighbourhood trees and also buy from the local markets. Hundreds of plants are readily available for sale at the nurseries to meet the rising demand from the locals.

Alisher Hajano, associated with the government's social forestry department, near the famous Mayani forest, Hyderabad said, “It is only recently that this tree got popularity at a larger scale.”

Each nursery at the highway grows as much as 10,000 to 50,000 plants of moringa for contributing to annual tree plantation drives. Many people mostly use leaves and pods as organic food.

Hajano receives a number of people from different areas demanding two-five kilogram of fresh leaves to cure some ailments. He doesn’t own mature trees himself, and procures the product from neighbouring villages.

Moringa leaves are dried by these people at room temperature, to later use for curing some diseases. “I know many entrepreneurs in the neighbouring villages, who sell moringa fresh and dried leaves, powder and roots, which they prepare at homes and farms. They also consume fresh and dried leaves, pods and roots themselves as an organic vegetable,” he said.

In the past, people preferred planting neem and other varieties of fruit trees at home and workplaces, but now they prefer moringa trees because of its various uses.

Moringa tree saplings are available at almost all private nurseries for Rs20-80 each, depending on size and health.

Various government and non-governmental organisations have taken initiatives to tackle malnutrition via community-based management of acute malnutrition (CMAM). However, very few long-term interventions have been noted that are linked to building the capacity of local communities, especially in the areas of cropping, plantations and livelihood mechanisms.

After realising the importance of moringa in eradicating malnutrition, many organisations have taken different steps to promote this magical tree on a larger scale, while also disbursing knowledge and awareness about its usage as food and for curing health problems.

A report of Sindh Agriculture University (SAU) Tandojam shows that they had initiated a project in Tharparkar district, to address the issue of malnutrition. The university had planted 5,000 moringa trees with 500 households, believing in its nutritious value for both humans and livestock.

Residents of Thar Desert, due to inherent structural poverty, poor socioeconomic indicators and limited livelihood options, suffer from chronic food insecurity. Moringa tree is considered the best substitute to provide necessary nutrition to children under five, and pregnant and lactating mothers.

The report said that 5,000 mature trees would be sufficient not only for the communities’ own consumption, but also for their livestock. Apart from this, parts of the tree could be used to treat various diseases.

Muhammad Siddiq, leading Rural Development Association (RDA) in Mithi, Tharparkar district claims to have planted 5,600 moringa saplings in different areas of the desert. Some plants cultivated in 2017, have now matured and people have access to fresh leaves and pods to use as vegetables.

“It is a fast growing tree and the desert area is suitable for its plantation. It has also been proved one of the best solutions to tackle malnutrition on a sustainable basis,” he said.

There are more species of moringa, but oleifera is said to be more effective with medicinal properties. The tree is highly rich in nutrients, which are required by children under the age of five and pregnant and lactating mothers.
Riaz Haq said…
1. More than 4.5 million children are enrolled in Sindh's schools
2. 133,000 teachers have been appointed for 49,103 schools
3. In 26,260 schools, facility for drinking water is not available

More than 10,000 government schools are nonfunctional in Sindh, the Reform and Support of the Sindh Education and Literacy Department has revealed in a report.

Titled "Profiting for Government Schools," the report shows data from 2018-19 and has been released after a gap of two years. According to the report, there are more than 4.5 million children enrolled in the province's schools.

The report says that 133,000 teachers have been appointed for 49,103 schools, out of which only 36,659 schools are functional.

In 26,260 schools, there is no facility for drinking water, while 19,469 are without washrooms' facility. The report further revealed that more than 31,000 schools do not have electricity.

Moreover, 21,00-plus schools do not have boundary walls, while over 47,000 schools are deprived of lab facilities, while as many as 36,000 do not have playgrounds.

It is pertinent to mention here that a chunk of schools, more than 47,000, do not have libraries in them — a necessary facility for students' grooming.

The report said that 2,812,000 male and 1,749,140 female students were enrolled in the schools.

As many as 2,91,9862 students are enrolled in primary, 185,047 in middle, 140,032 in elementary, 918,706 in secondary, and 397,493 in higher secondary schools.

Meanwhile, out of the total 49,103 school buildings in the province, 14,998 are considered to be in satisfactory conditions, 8,426 are weary, while 14,977 need repairs.


25.2pc of revenue to be spent on education, says Murad

While presenting Sindh’s education budget for the fiscal year 2020-21 on Wednesday, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said that the budget of education sector, in a macro perspective, had been increased to Rs244.5 billion when compared with Rs212.4bn for 2019-20.

“Despite resource constraints we have allocated funds which is 25.2 per cent of our current revenue budget,” he said.

He said that education was one of the key priority areas for the government of Sindh. “We aim at improving access to equitable, inclusive and quality education for all to realise their fullest potential and contribute to the development of society and economy, thus creating a sense of nationhood, inculcating values of tolerance, social justice and democracy in students,” he said.

He explained that in order to manage education-related functions in an efficient manner, enhance the quality of education and provide better facilities at educational institutions, the department of education was divided into two departments — the school education and literacy department (SELD) and the college education department (CED) back in 2016.

Riaz Haq said…
To provide survivor-centered care, health workers in Pakistan learn to ask about gender-based violence with empathy

Early in her career, Dr Rukhsana Bashir, a clinician in Pakistan, was used to seeing women in her clinic with symptoms of pain, headaches, insomnia and depression. She would listen and treat each symptom, but the underlying causes went unnoticed.

She did not know that some of those women were experiencing gender-based violence (GBV) – a pervasive health challenge throughout the country and world, and one she personally had experienced.

Approximately, 34% of ever married women in Pakistan have experienced spousal violence, either physical, sexual or emotional, in their lifetime, with rates increasing as high as 52% in Khyber Paktunkhwa Province.

“It never came to my mind that these women might be experiencing gender-based violence,” says Dr Bashir, who works at the Family Planning Association of Pakistan’s Family Health Hospital in the city of Lahore.

Now years later, Dr Bashir has been trained by WHO to use its clinical and policy guidelines: Responding to intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women. She further trains health workers how to provide survivor-centered care including how to ask about violence and how to provide first-line support.

Dr Bashir is one of more than 1000 doctors, nurses, hospital administrators and community health workers, including midwives who were trained between 2018-2020 as part of the roll out of the clinical and policy guideline package by Pakistan’s Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination and provincial health departments, with technical support from WHO and sister UN agencies, to strengthen the country’s health systems response to gender-based violence.

Thanks to the training she received, Dr Bashir has changed her practice. Unexplained symptoms of chronic pain or headaches, insomnia or depression, lead her to ask more questions to women about potential violence at home.

“When women come to the clinic, they don’t think that they are going to discuss the problem [of violence], but I have to ask them a few bold questions. In the beginning they are afraid and don’t want to tell me anything, but you have to identify their problems. Only then can you offer better services and treatment.”

A decade long effort to support survivors
The training Dr Bashir completed is part of a decade long effort WHO’s Pakistan office to work with the Government to strengthen the health and multisectoral response to gender-based violence. However, in order to strengthen the health sector response, the country needed manuals, job aids and trainings for health workers. In 2010 there were none.

In response, the Government developed a national protocol for medico-legal care for gender-based violence survivors in 2011. This was accompanied by ongoing policy dialogues and advocacy to strengthen health sector response to gender-based violence.

In 2017, the WHO clinical handbook: Health care for women subjected to intimate partner violence or sexual violence, was adapted and piloted in selected provinces and districts. The adaptation process, led by the Government and WHO, included multiple stakeholders, such as provincial ministries of health, UN Women, UNFPA, non-governmental organizations, medical associations and health workers.

As a result, the Pakistani clinical handbook for health workers on the management of sexual and gender-based violence, and localized job aids and materials for training providers were produced. The Government and WHO conducted 30 trainings for master trainers, health workers, and medico-legal experts in four provinces.

Riaz Haq said…

#Pakistan PM #ImranKhan launches initiative to feed the hungry. Free meals will be provided through Ehsaas Food Trucks at designated delivery points to people in need, especially those at risk of or experiencing #hunger. #poverty #malnutrition #Covid19

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday formally launched ‘Ehsaas Koi Bhuka Na Soye’ (No One Sleeps Hungry) initiative at a ceremony held here.

Addressing the launching ceremony, the Prime Minister regretted that there were many areas in Pakistan where people go to bed hungry.

“Most people in Pakistan are on daily wages and when they don’t get their wages, they have to sleep empty stomach,” he added.

He said that the government is starting the programme in Islamabad at the moment but it would soon reach other cities as well. “One day, these vans would feed people in entire Pakistan.”

As per the programme, cooked meals will be provided through mobile trucks at designated delivery points to people in need especially those at risk of or experiencing hunger.

Initially, the Ehsaas Food Trucks are being operated in Islamabad and Rawalpindi and at later stage this programme will be further expanded to other parts of the country.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said the programme is a step towards a welfare state, which always cares for its poor and deserving people.

He said he always feels happy to see that deserving people are given shelter and food with honour and dignity at various Panahgahs established across the country.

He also announced to launch a subsidy programme by June this year under which money will directly be transferred to the accounts of 30 million families.

He said it will enable the poor and deserving people to procure kitchen items.

It was his dream to extend the ‘Koi Bhuka Na Soye’ programme to the whole country and “Insha Allah we will do it”, he added.

Imran Khan said a large number of philanthropists in the country desired to participate in such programmes, and he believed that the success of pilot project in the twin cities would help win their trust to contribute towards its extension across Pakistan.

He also mentioned with pride the government’s health card scheme in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and Gilgit Baltistan, under which each family was entitled for medical treatment worth Rs one million from any public or private hospital.

The prime minister, in a briefing on the occasion, was informed that after extensive deliberations on different avenues, the Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal (PBM) initiated the Meals on Wheels programme to tackle the extended demands of Panahgaahs.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar said the programme was aimed at providing two time hygienic packed food – lunch and dinner – to the needy individuals through real time mobile kitchens in urban and rural areas of Islamabad. The project would be later scaled up to other areas of the country.

PBM Managing Director Aon Abbas, in his briefing, said at present two Ehsaas food trucks were serving free quality cooked food at various points across the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, including hospitals, bus stations and other public places with utmost dignity. The meals were cooked, stored and distributed from the truck kitchen.

As per estimates, each food truck would feed two meals to around 2,000 people daily, and would target those, who could not reach the Panahgaahs for food.

The programme had been designed in a public private partnership mode whereby the PBM would be responsible for the operations of food trucks and Saylani Welfare International Trust would be responsible for the provision of meals.

The Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal had already been working on the component of Panahgaahs to provide food and shelter to the extremely poor and needy.It had so far established 15 Panahgaahs in different provinces.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan to get $1.3 billion #WorldBank loan for social safety net (#EhsaasKafaalat), #infrastructure & governance. Projects include 35 small rainwater-fed #groundwater recharge #dams in #Sindh: #Karachi, Jamshoro, Thatta, Dadu, & Tharparkar. #water

Pakistan has reached an agreement with World Bank to work on seven projects worth $1.3 billion aimed at improving social protection, infrastructure, and governance, a statement from the Ministry of Economic Affairs said Friday.

Minister for Economic Affairs, Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar witnessed the signing ceremony of seven project agreements at the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

"This financing will support the government’s initiatives in Social Protection, Disaster and Climate Risk Management, Improving Infrastructure for Resilience, Agriculture and Food Security, Human Capital Development and Governance Sectors," the statement said.

The agreement includes the Crisis-Resilient Social Protection Programme (CRISP) worth $600 million. The objective of the programme is to support the development of a more adaptive social protection system that will contribute to future crisis-resilience among poor and vulnerable households in the country.

"The programme is focused on the key initiatives being undertaken by Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) under the Ehaas Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programmes," the statement said.

The second project worth $200 million is the Locust Emergency and Food Security Project that will introduce a set of customised activities — such as conducting locust surveillance and controlling operations, rehabilitating livelihoods of affected rural communities and farmers — to effectively address the desert locust outbreak.

The third project worth $200 million is the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Human Capital Investment Project.

It aims to improve the availability, utilisation, and quality of primary healthcare services and elementary education services in four districts — Peshawar, Nowshera Haripur, and Swabi — of KP that have been hosting refugees.

The Sindh Resilience Project worth $200 Million — the fourth project — is to mitigate flood and drought risks in selected areas and strengthen Sindh’s capacity to manage natural disasters and public health emergencies.

"The project will support the establishment of the Sindh Emergency Service, including the development of six divisional headquarters operational facilities, provision of equipment, and training of personnel," it said.

It will also support the construction of 35 small rainwater-fed recharge dams in drought-prone regions of Sindh including Karachi, Jamshoro, Thatta, Dadu, and Nagarparker in Tharparkar districts.

The fifth project and sixth projects, Balochistan Livelihood and Entrepreneurship, and Balochistan Human Capital Investment Projects, worth $86 million aim to promote employment opportunities for rural communities; achieve sustainability of enterprises, and improve utilisation of quality health and education services in the province.

The final and seventh project, the Supporting Institutional Interventions for Management of Refugees Project, worth $50 million, aims to improve organisational and institutional capacity for managing refugees and host communities.

Secretary Ministry of Economic Affairs Noor Ahmed signed the financing agreements on behalf of the federal government, while representatives of Sindh, KP, and Balochistan signed their respective project agreements online.

World Bank's Country Director Najy Benhassine signed the agreements on behalf of the World Bank. The country director assured his institution's continuous financial and technical support to Pakistan in a bid to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the country.
Riaz Haq said…
World Bank Supports Expansion of the Ehsass Social Protection Program in Pakistan to Increase Household Resilience to Economic Shocks

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved $600 million in financing from the International Development Association (IDA) for the Crisis-Resilient Social Protection Program (CRISP) that will support Pakistan to expand Ehsaas, the national poverty alleviation program, to protect vulnerable households and increase resilience to economic shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of families across Pakistan face economic hardship, particularly those working in the informal sector, who have no savings or are not covered by existing social safety net programs,” said Najy Benhassine, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “This investment supports Ehsaas in developing an adaptive social protection system that is more efficient and offers a new model for crisis-response and increasing household resilience to future shocks.”

CRISP will facilitate the gradual expansion of Ehsaas social protection programs to better reach informal workers through an innovative, hybrid approach that blends social assistance with promotion of increased savings that informal workers, particularly women, can depend on in the event of economic shocks. It will provide a platform through which the government can rapidly respond to support the most affected households during an economic crisis.

“In the event of a crisis, a more flexible and dynamic social protection system can significantly reduce the time needed to respond to peoples’ needs as well as supporting a faster recovery,” said Amjad Zafar Khan, Task Team Leader for the Crisis-Resilient Social Protection program.

CRISP will also improve the capacity of the social registry to maintain up-to-date accurate household data and exchange data among social programs, while providing greater beneficiary choice in the biometric payment systems. It will also help Pakistan address longer-term impacts on human capital caused by the pandemic, resulting from foregone health and medical services and a substantial loss of education due to prolonged absence from schools.

To help prevent losses in human capital accumulation, which is critical to long-term resilience, CRISP leverages two existing Ehsaas programs that provide conditional cash transfers (CCT) to eligible households. These include Waseela-e-Taleem, a CCT program linked to primary school attendance and Nashonuma, a nutrition-focused CCT program aimed at improving child and maternal health, which will benefit more than three million families across the country.

The World Bank in Pakistan

Pakistan has been a member of the World Bank since 1950. Since then, the World Bank has provided $40 billion in assistance. The World Bank’s program in Pakistan is governed by the Country Partnership Strategy for FY2015-2020 with four priority areas of engagement: energy, private sector development, inclusion, and service delivery. The current portfolio has 57 projects and a total commitment of $13 billion.

Last Updated: Mar 25, 2021
Riaz Haq said…
#WorldBank recognizes #Pakistan's #EhsaasEmergencyCash among world's largest. Pakistan is among top 5 lower middle income nations by level of #social protection spending. #Mongolia (8% of #GDP), #Zimbabwe (5%), #Bolivia (3%), #Pakistan (1.2%), Others <1%

As per World Bank’s latest report titled Social Protection and Jobs Responses to COVID-19: A Real-Time Review of Country Measures, India’s Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) program with over 206 million individuals covered, is the largest Covid-related cash transfer scheme worldwide. Such program is followed by three cash transfer interventions all reaching over a hundred million people, namely the US first stimulus check (160 million), Japan’s one-off universal program reaching about (116.5), and Pakistan’s Ehsaas (100.9).

The report stated that Pakistan was also among the top 5 lower-middle-income countries by level of social protection spending. The highest level of spending in lower-middle-income countries is observed in Mongolia (8% of GDP), Zimbabwe (5%), Bolivia (3%), Pakistan (1.2%), and with a range of others spending 1% of GDP.

As per the report, Pakistan’s provincial governments also implemented supportive fiscal measures from the onset of the shock, including cash grants to low-income households, tax relief, and additional health spending (including a salary increase for healthcare workers).

The government of Punjab implemented a PKR 10 billion cash grants program. The government of Sindh's measures included a cash grant.

The Government of Pakistan allocated Rs. 203 Billion (USD 1.23bn) to deliver one-time emergency cash assistance to 15 million families at risk of extreme poverty. This represents nearly 109 million people. Each family receives Rs. 12,000 (USD 75) for immediate subsistence.

The Economic Coordination Committee approved Rs. 75 billion among 6.2 million daily-wage earners with cash assistance for the daily wagers working in the formal industrial sector and who had been laid off because of the COVID-19 outbreak. It was part of the PM’s Relief Package of Rs 200 billion.

As part of the supportive fiscal measures, the Government of Pakistan implemented additional health spending. The government of Sindh's measures included a cash grant and ration distribution program of PKR 1.5 billion for low-income households.

The report stated that a relief package worth PKR 1.2 trillion was announced by the federal government on March 24, which has been almost fully implemented. The economic package earmarked resources for accelerated procurement of wheat (PKR 280 billion), financial support to utility stores (PKR 50 billion), a reduction in regulated fuel prices (with a benefit for end-consumers estimated at PKR 70 billion), support for health and food supplies (PKR 15 billion), electricity bill payments relief (PKR 110 billion.

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet in April last year approved the deferment of monthly and quarterly fuel adjustments in the electricity bills for power consumers for the next three months (till June 2020) under the government relief package. 06 April 2020 Power Division has reportedly prepared power tariff freezing for three months aimed at minimizing the financial burden on the Coronavirus-hit consumers, estimated financial impact of which will be Rs 381 billion, stated the report.

Riaz Haq said…
Is Covid-19 a turning point in social protection?

A number of social protection interventions, monetary interventions such as a cut in policy rate by the central bank, and flexible credit facilities were introduced by the government. Most notably, it introduced the Ehsaas Emergency Cash (EEC) programme, covering 5 million existing Ehsaas Kafaalat beneficiaries and new temporary beneficiaries who were either uncovered or ineligible before the pandemic. Identified through an SMS campaign, many of the new beneficiaries are daily labourers and informal workers whose livelihoods have been adversely affected by the corona-induced economic downturn. An immediate cash relief of Rs.12,000 was extended by the government to these families. Moreover, the Prime Minister launched a web-portal soliciting applications from those who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic and committed the Prime Minister’s Covid Pandemic Relief Fund to those qualifying for aid. These funds are being disbursed through the EEC programme.

When analysing the shock responsive social protection pathways, the following points are important to consider. Pakistan already has a social safety net in place which targets the poorest quintile of the population. Therefore, it might have been ideal to expand on the already existing cash transfer programmes. In that instance, a lot of people, including daily wage labourers, who have been adversely impacted by this pandemic crisis but weren’t part of any existing social safety net might have missed out. Hence, it was imperative to reach out to people who were not part of such safety nets, but desperately needed support.

In such a scenario, one option was to give out a one-time universal payment, such as in developed countries, but that means some of the money would have gone out to the undeserving people as well. Keeping in view the limited resources, this wasn’t a viable option and the approach of targeted support was better suited. Hence, the EEC programme that leveraged on the existing Ehsaas infrastructure was launched and it has effectively targeted the vulnerable segment of the society.

Fortunately, over the past decade, Pakistan has developed asocial safety net structure which provided a foundation to expand upon and deliver shock responsive aid efficiently in form of the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme. However, this piggyback model through which the existing systems of Ehsaas are being utilised is a short-term intervention. Though helpful, it doesn’t cover broader aspects of social protection such as enabling the poor to graduate out of poverty. This will be a critical factor in offsetting the adverse impact of the pandemic in the long run.

A strong sustainable social protection system guides the beneficiaries towards self-sufficiency and enables them to earn their own livelihoods, addressing inequality as a result, ensuring social inclusion and empowering the vulnerable. During the pandemic cinduced joblessness, it is essential that the social protection framework sprioritise the vulnerable, provide access to health services, support people in adopting necessary prevention measures, ensure income security, protect human capabilities and livelihoods, scale up and strengthen already existing social protection programmes and its delivery capacities and design crisis response measures with a view to strengthen social protection systems in the long term.

Pakistan highly values its relations with EU: COAS Bajwa
The Ehsaas programme has done well but the harsh reality is that there is a need to improve the existing social protection mechanism, build state capabilities, make shock responsive social protection a permanent feature and transition to a broader comprehensive scale of welfare for a better, inclusive and sustainable future. Hopefully, the Covid-19 pandemic would turn out to be a turning point in the social protection domain in Pakistan.
Riaz Haq said…
In Pakistan we are developing a Covid-19 legacy to end poverty and drive health for all

The pandemic shines a bright light on inequity and we now have a window of opportunity to help people bounce back along with the economy


While our immediate focus is to bring down the current number of cases, we are also preparing for future shocks and are further investing in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of a welfare state that works for everyone in Pakistan and tackles the foundational inequities that the virus exploited.

Many lessons have been learned from this pandemic, both in terms of what works and where we need to improve – lessons that are relevant for both social protection and health systems. The first lesson is the importance of “building systems”.

We were able to deliver the emergency cash program because of preexisting digital capabilities that Ehsaas, Pakistan’s groundbreaking poverty alleviation initiative, had already created. These digital capabilities, which included a biometric cash distribution system, were quickly adapted alongside an SMS based request platform and data analytics.

A recent report by the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth found that the Ehsaas emergency cash transfer program, which distributed US$1.2 billion to 15 million families, was pivotal in preventing a catastrophic explosion in poverty during the pandemic.

Similarly, systems established by the Covid-19 National Command and Operations Center (NCOC) delivered results due to data driven decision making and coordination. Pakistan’s polio infrastructure was heavily utilised during the Covid-19 pandemic to track the virus, break chains of transmission and ultimately save lives.

For the vaccine rollout, existing systems of immunisation and its cold chain were augmented. The second lesson is the importance of reaching the most breaking the chains of poverty to achieve sustainable prosperity.

Since Ehsaas was established in 2019, the Prime Minister has maintained its focus on reaching the most marginalised communities, with the understanding that as well as being the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do.

We have seen from other health and development programs that this is not always an easy task. Yet while noting the success and critical role of the polio programme in the current pandemic, Pakistan is yet to eliminate polio.

This is primarily due to inability to reach some children and this is especially true of the Pashtun community, in certain parts of the country. We can’t accept this for polio, health services or social protection.

The philosophy behind Ehsaas’ efforts is to ensure that everyone can access quality health and nutrition services, that our children get a good education which opens their horizons for the future and a strong social safety net so that when needed the most disadvantaged groups have something to fall back on it.

Third, innovations are only as good as the capacity to scale. In the wake of the pandemic, we have fast-tracked our work on building the social protection registry; we are expanding our social protections operations and are opening ‘one-window centres’ for Ehsaas so that those accessing the benefits can do it all in one go.

Hiring and training people to deliver Ehsaas services was key to being able to scale up quickly and effectively and responding to the acute economic challenges that ordinary people faced. And the same goes for strengthening our own health systems to end this pandemic and prepare for future ones.

The Government of Pakistan is working to strengthen our own domestic vaccine manufacturing. Nationally and internationally, we’re working with public and private stakeholders to encourage the sharing of licensing, technology and know how and waiving intellectual property through the duration of the pandemic.
Riaz Haq said…
#WorldBank grants #Pakistan $442.4m for uplift of #social #infrastructure in #Punjab. Project aims to provide equitable and sustainable access to clean drinking #water; improve #sanitation; reduce child stunting in Punjab to cover 2,000 poorest villages

The Ministry of Economic Affairs, Government of Pakistan and the World Bank signed the financing agreement of “Punjab Rural Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation Project” on Sunday, said a press release issued by Ministry of Economic Affairs (EAD).

Secretary Economic Affairs Noor Ahmed signed the financing agreement on behalf of the Government of Pakistan while Country Director, World Bank Najy Benhassine, signed the agreement on behalf of the World Bank.

The project aims to provide equitable and sustainable access to clean drinking water; improve sanitation; and reduce child stunting in Punjab.

The project interventions will cover 2,000 villages including 2,000 main settlements and 8,000 small settlements in 16 districts of Punjab that are the poorest and have the worst social infrastructure, besides stunting issues.

In line with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to ensure equitable and inclusive socioeconomic opportunities, eight districts from South Punjab; Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, DG Khan, Lodhran, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yar Khan and Rajanpur have been included in the project.

Furthermore, eight other districts from Central and North Punjab i.e. Bhakkar, Chakwal, Chiniot, Jhang, Khushab, Mianwali, Pakpattan and Sarghodha were included after due diligence.

The project will have a direct impact on the life of citizens and create employment opportunities in the rural areas.

The government will invest in social infrastructure and improve service delivery to provide potable water through cost-effective and sustainable investments; offer safely managed sanitation facilities to reduce the total fecal burden in the village environment; and raise awareness and promote behaviour change for better hygiene practices at the household and community levels to promote health and ensure the sustainability and quality of the water source.

The project interventions will directly benefit six million rural people of Punjab and will support in reducing the incidence of stunting among children aged 0-3 years (40%) in Punjab.

Minister for Economic Affairs Omar Ayub Khan appreciated the World Bank’s efforts by highlighting that this was a signature project which reflects the vision of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to invest in human capital and to improve the standard of living of the people.

The minister further stated that today’s event was a reflection of the continued confidence by the IFIs on the government’s policies, economic reforms and people-centered programmes.

He reiterated the commitment of the federal government to extend all possible support to the provincial governments in their efforts to invest in human capital by addressing challenges to health and education; building resilience, improving service delivery and promoting economic opportunities to ensure inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the country.

The Secretary EAD thanked the World Bank's country team for extending their continuous support to the government of Pakistan to help achieving sustainable economic development in Pakistan.

Country Director World Bank, Najy Benhassine ensured the World Bank’s continued financial and technical support to Pakistan in achieving the priority development objectives and to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the country.
Riaz Haq said…
In Pakistan we are developing a Covid-19 legacy to end poverty and drive health for all
The pandemic shines a bright light on inequity and we now have a window of opportunity to help people bounce back along with the economy

by Sania Nishtar

Developing a Covid-19 Legacy to End Poverty and Drive Health for All As Prime Minister Imran Khan and I travelled to Larkana, a city in the Sindh province of Pakistan to meet with the people effected by the pandemic, we met with a street vendor called Arshaq who broke down as he received the Rs.12,000 Ehsaas emergency cash – Pakistan’s flagship welfare state system.

He told us that he intended to invest about a fifth of the money to rent a pushcart and buy bananas to sell. He was confident that he’d make enough money for his family to live off. With tears in his eyes he went on to say he would buy food rations with the rest of the money as his daughters had not eaten properly for weeks.

It was deeply humbling and reflects the hardship millions of people have gone through over the last 18 months of the pandemic. The latest increase in cases of Covid-19 appear to be dropping and vaccines, which are key to us and the world getting through the acute stage of this pandemic, continue to be rolled out across Pakistan, the country is finally starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.


For the vaccine rollout, existing systems of immunisation and its cold chain were augmented. The second lesson is the importance of reaching the most breaking the chains of poverty to achieve sustainable prosperity.

Since Ehsaas was established in 2019, the Prime Minister has maintained its focus on reaching the most marginalised communities, with the understanding that as well as being the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do.

We have seen from other health and development programs that this is not always an easy task. Yet while noting the success and critical role of the polio programme in the current pandemic, Pakistan is yet to eliminate polio.

This is primarily due to inability to reach some children and this is especially true of the Pashtun community, in certain parts of the country. We can’t accept this for polio, health services or social protection.

The philosophy behind Ehsaas’ efforts is to ensure that everyone can access quality health and nutrition services, that our children get a good education which opens their horizons for the future and a strong social safety net so that when needed the most disadvantaged groups have something to fall back on it.

Third, innovations are only as good as the capacity to scale. In the wake of the pandemic, we have fast-tracked our work on building the social protection registry; we are expanding our social protections operations and are opening ‘one-window centres’ for Ehsaas so that those accessing the benefits can do it all in one go.

Hiring and training people to deliver Ehsaas services was key to being able to scale up quickly and effectively and responding to the acute economic challenges that ordinary people faced. And the same goes for strengthening our own health systems to end this pandemic and prepare for future ones.

The Government of Pakistan is working to strengthen our own domestic vaccine manufacturing. Nationally and internationally, we’re working with public and private stakeholders to encourage the sharing of licensing, technology and know how and waiving intellectual property through the duration of the pandemic.

Pandemic proofing our systems is smart economics when you consider the trillions lost over the last 18 months. None of this would have happened without the steadfast leadership of the Prime Minister, Imran Khan.

Embarking on the most ambitious anti-poverty drive in Pakistan prior to the pandemic was challenging but it was also critical to leverage key resources to help us tackle the acute need while laying the groundwork for a long-term recovery.

Riaz Haq said…
Sehat Sahulat Programme: SLIC Pakistan’s role

Sehat Sahulat Programme is one of the key milestones of the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa towards social welfare reforms with an objective to improve access to quality medical services in a swift and dignified manner without any financial obligations. It is the first-ever initiative aimed at providing free of cost indoor healthcare services to the entire population of the province in private and public sector hospitals.

The federal government, in collaboration with the Punjab government, is also implementing the Sehat Sahulat Programme covering the entire population of AJK, FATA, Tharparkar, Sahiwal and D G Khan Division. At the same time, the below poverty population of Islamabad, GB and the rest of Punjab is covered under the Federal Scheme.

At present, the State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan manages both programmes making it the largest micro-health insurance provider in the country, covering more than 100 million members in the designated areas. State Life offers healthcare services in more than 90 districts of Pakistan, with its extensive network of more than 500 hospitals across Pakistan.

The organisation is responsible for enrolment of families, empanelment of hospitals, treatment rate negotiations, in-patient care provision, complaint redressal, hospital claims processing, fraud control, risk and financial management of the programmes.

As part of the implementation process, SLIC has stationed its own staff Health Facilitators at each panel hospital while District Medical Officers conduct regular rounds to observe the quality medical practices. Different IT enhancements, including real-time information and mobile application, were introduced to improve customer experience, cost efficiency and ease of delivery of services. State Life has, therefore, a significant role in the successful implementation of health insurance programmes.

Over the course of five years, State Life has developed strong technical capacity, ground network, IT and human resource development to ensure effective implementation of programmes. More than 1.1 million patients are treated under the health programmes with more than 97% satisfaction rate as per 3rd party, i.e., NADRA’s assessment. The maximum amount of ground-work completed by State Life makes those programmes successful.

It is pertinent to mention that the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa carried out an open tendering process in 2020 among leading private and public sector insurance companies to implement the Sehat Sahulat Programme. The shortlisted organisations include i) State Life Insurance Corporation; ii) A joint consortium of Askari Insurance, Jubilee Life, Jubilee General, AXA, Takaful Pakistan and System International; and iii) A joint consortium of United Insurance, SPI Insurance & Association of Development of Public Health.

State Life was awarded the contract for the implementation of SSP as a result of its highest technical score depicting the solid technical knowledge, historical experience, strong liquidity and financial strength of the corporation. Besides technical weightage, State Life has also quoted the lowest premium in comparison with other insurance companies. All the other insurance programmes procured by State Life have resulted from a similar open bidding process. As such, the perception of direct awarding of the Sehat Sahulat Programme to State Life is incorrect.

The organisation is in competition with other private sector insurers for UHI in Punjab, GB and ICT. The programme is expected to implement in phases, whereas State Life has already covered the entire DG Khan and Sahiwal divisions.

Riaz Haq said…
Exploring willingness to pay for health insurance and preferences for a benefits package from the perspective of women from low-income households of Karachi, Pakistan

Achieving universal health coverage (UHC) and reduction in out of pocket (OOP) expenditures on health, is a critical target of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In low-middle income countries, micro-health insurance (MHI) schemes have emerged as a useful financing tool for laying grounds for Universal Health Coverage. The aim of this study was to provide evidence for designing a feasible health insurance scheme targeted at urban poor, by exploring preferences for an insurance benefits package and co-payments among women from low-income households in Karachi, Pakistan.

Respondents reporting expenditure on OPD and hospitalization in the last 2 weeks were 93.4 and 11.9% respectively. The highest median expenditure was incurred on medicines. Out of the proposed benefits package, a majority (53%) of the study participants opted for the comprehensive benefits package that provided coverage for emergency care, hospitalization, OPD consultation, diagnostic tests and transportation. For the co-payment plan, 38.9% participants preferred no co-payments that is 100% insurance coverage of medicines followed by hospitalization (25.9%). Nearly half of the respondents (49.4%) chose outpatient consultation for 50% co-payment. A majority of the participants (65.3%) agreed to 100% co-payment for the transportation cost.

Health insurance schemes can be introduced in urban areas, against collection of micro-payments, to prevent low-income households from facing financial catastrophe. A comprehensive benefits package covering emergency care, hospitalization, OPD consultation, diagnostic tests and transportation, is the most preferred among low-income beneficiaries.
Riaz Haq said…
Govt To Provide Loan To Deserving People Under Kamyab Pakistan Programme: Tarin

:Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin Wednesday said the government would provide loan to deserving people to set up their business or purchase house through transparent process.

Talking to a private news channel, he said under Kamyab Pakistan Programme, low-cost housing scheme would be launched for lower income groups enabling them to own their houses.

Tarin said the data of deserving beneficiaries was available with department concerned in that regard.

The minister further said the incumbent government was providing loan on easy conditions and Kamyab Pakistan Programme beneficiaries could easily access to agriculture and business loans at zero-mark up without collateral.

He said the government under visionary leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan had strengthened and stabled the national economy through prudent economic policies.


Kamyab Pakistan Program to bring 3 million families out of poverty: Shaukat Tarin

Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin has said that beneficiaries of Kamyab Pakistan Program would enjoy easy access to agricultural and business loans at zero-mark up without collateral.

He was talking to Prime Minister s Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr. Sania Nishtar in Islamabad.

The Finance Minister said Kamyab Pakistan Program will provide low-cost housing scheme for lower income groups enabling them to own their houses.

He said the program will bring at least three million families out of the vicious cycle of poverty in the next three to five years.
Riaz Haq said…
PM #ImranKhan: Kisan Card will 'transform' farming in #Pakistan. #Technology will eliminate bribes and let #farmers get #agriculture loans and have direct access to agriculture #subsidies for #seeds, #pesticides & #fertilizer.

The premier said that the subsidy on DAP (diammonium phosphate), which was previously Rs500, would also be increased to Rs1,000 under the Kisan Card.

"Subsidies will also be available for seeds and pesticides," said the prime minister, adding that loans to farmers would also be provided through the card and preparations for this were already under way.


The premier said that during the PTI government's tenure, farmers had gained an additional Rs1,100 billion due to the prices they received for produce such as sugarcane, wheat and corn.

"Pakistan's poverty is concentrated in rural areas," he said, adding that the additional money that farmers would gain would help to improve their standard of living. He said that reducing poverty had been the "real purpose" of the PTI government since day one, adding that it was now "moving towards that target".

The prime minister also mentioned other measures the government was taking to improve the agricultural sector and pointed out the Rs300bn transformation package.

"Water is a very big problem. If farmers face water shortages then their produce is affected," he said, adding that two big dams were being made after 50 years to address this issue and Rs220bn from the transformation package was set aside for the fortification and lining of canals. Additional small scale water projects were also being carried out, he said.

He also stated that due to his efforts, agriculture had been brought under the scope of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to benefit from Beijing's agricultural technology and seed development. Pakistan's own research institutions on seed development would also be revamped, the premier said.

The prime minister also stated that a lot of agricultural produce that was imported, would now be grown in Pakistan, adding that the country's favourable climate and temperature provided the necessary conditions to increase crop yield.

"Our farmers are still using old methods," lamented the premier and stated that extension services were being privatised. A trained professional per Union Council would be responsible for visiting farmers on a motorcycle in the area and informing them about new agricultural techniques.

"There is great need for this because we need [to adopt] new [agricultural] practices," said the prime minister, adding that Pakistan's agriculture was subsistence level so "we will train them (farmers) through extension services to increase their productivity."

He also pointed out initiatives to develop Pakistan's livestock and said Pakistan still imported milk due to low productivity. Thus, Rs40bn have been set aside to import semen so livestock breeds could be improved, said the premier.

"You will see that change will come in one to two years and because of that, milk production will increase three-fold," he said, adding that improving the breed of livestock will not only allow Pakistan to provide cheap milk but also export cheese and milk.

"We can earn $25bn just from cheese and milk exports in the next three years."

Prime Minister Imran Khan lamented the losses that vegetables and fruits suffered at 50 per cent and 20pc for grains. "So we have decided to develop storage for them and food processing plants," he announced, adding that billions of rupees were lost due to 20pc of wheat being lost and fruits and vegetables could otherwise be provided much cheaper.

Among other measures he mentioned were doubling of loans for farmers, local production of fertilisers, doubling cereal production as well as improving local production of medicinal plants, corn and developing the fishery sector such as prawns.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #infant mortality rate (#IMR) has declined from 278 deaths per 1000 live births in 1950 to 58 deaths per 1000 live births in 2020.

Chart and table of the Pakistan infant mortality rate from 1950 to 2021. United Nations projections are also included through the year 2100.
The current infant mortality rate for Pakistan in 2021 is 57.998 deaths per 1000 live births, a 1.88% decline from 2020.
The infant mortality rate for Pakistan in 2020 was 59.109 deaths per 1000 live births, a 1.84% decline from 2019.
The infant mortality rate for Pakistan in 2019 was 60.219 deaths per 1000 live births, a 1.81% decline from 2018.
The infant mortality rate for Pakistan in 2018 was 61.330 deaths per 1000 live births, a 2.16% decline from 2017.
Riaz Haq said…
At the time of the first census in 1950, the overall literacy rate was 20% in India and 14% in Pakistan, according to UNESCO. As of 2012, India has achieved 75% literacy rate while Pakistan is at 58%. Pakistan Youth (15-24 years) literacy rate is 79.1% for males and 61.5% for females. Each new generation of Pakistanis is more literate than its predecessors:

Over 55 years 30% literate

45-55 years 40%

35-45 years 50%

25-35 years 60%

15-25 years 70%
Riaz Haq said…
Muzammil Aslam on Ehsaas, Sehat, Kisan cards in Pakistan

وزیر اعظم نے احساس پروگرام شروع کیا ، مفت ہیلتھ انشورنس دی اور کاشتکار کو کسان کارڈ دیا جس سے عام آدمی کی زندگی بہتر ہوگی : مزمل اسلم
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan to launch 911 #emergency helpline PEHEL (Pakistan Emergency HELpline) across the country.

Different emergency numbers will be merged into one hotline

Islamabad: The Pakistan government is set to launch an all-in-one emergency helpline 911 to swiftly respond to call for help across the country.

Different emergency numbers will be merged into one hotline called Pakistan Emergency Helpline (PEHEL). The idea is to launch a service similar to the 911 helpline in the United States.

The project is being implemented by the National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC) and the Digital Pakistan initiative of the IT ministry. NTC, which is responsible for providing secure and reliable telecommunication services to government organizations, is spearheading the initiative to help the citizens in distress. The software applications are being developed by NTC and the National Information Technology Board (NITB).

The dedicated emergency response number can be dialled to avail different services including police, ambulance, and other rescue and support so that the citizens will not have to go through different helplines during emergencies.

The decision was taken in the wake of the horrific rape incident at Lahore-Sialkot Motorway in September 2020 in which the victim failed to get any help through the motorway helpline. The incident prompted Prime Minister Imran Khan to launch a dedicated hotline to prevent such crimes and offer citizens immediate help during the emergency situation.

Khan had asked the PM Delivery Unit (PMDU) to complete work on the emergency helpline by December 2020. However, the launch of the pilot project in Islamabad is expected to take another two months. The testing of the service has been completed. The operations would initially begin at Safe City Islamabad.

The PEHEL 911 service would offer a “unified and one-window access to all emergency services” in Pakistan, according to IT Minister Syed Aminul Haq. The IT ministry will provide technical support and infrastructure and the interior ministry will ensure the smooth....
Riaz Haq said…
The missing third: An out-of-school children study of Pakistani 5-16 year-olds

The proportion of out-of-school children at the district, provincial and national level has been extracted from the Pakistan Social and Living Measurements Standards survey 2019-20 (PSLM). PSLM is conducted every two years by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, with data collection at the provincial and at the district levels in each alternate iteration.

Out of all children in Pakistan between the ages of five to 16 years, 32 per cent, i.e. one third, are out of school (Note: 49% of these never enroll while 51% drop out by the age 16). This amounts to an estimated total of over 20 million. Balochistan has the highest proportion of OOSC at 47 per cent followed by Sindh at 44 per cent.

In absolute terms, Punjab has the largest total population of OOSC roughly estimated at 7.7 million followed by Sindh at 6.5 million.


There are two types of OOSC (Out of School Children):

• Children who have never attended school

• Children who have attended school in the past but have since dropped out

Riaz Haq said…
From Dawn's story "The missing third"

Of all children between the ages of 5-16, the highest enrolment rate is observed among nine years olds (82 per cent) followed by 11 year olds (81 per cent). It is interesting to note that the same trend is observed for boys and girls virtually across the range of five to 16 years. The only difference is percentage of enrolment of each age group is higher for boys than girls.

The data indicates two underlying themes:

• First time enrolments happen later than required — The data shows that enrolment rates pick up steadily from five years to nine years. It shows that more and more children are enrolled into the system much beyond the age of five. It also indicates lack of emphasis on early childhood education leading up to class 1.

• Drop outs start to happen between 9-11 years of age — The data shows a steady decline in enrolment percentages after 11 years, as children go beyond the primary school age. Possible reasons are limited access to middle and high schools which are typically fewer and farther compared to primary schools and rising opportunity costs.

Riaz Haq said…
3 Ways Hunar Ghar Helps Women in Pakistan

Hunar Ghar helps women in Pakistan find confidence in themselves. Professional instructors teach skills such as embroidery, sewing, hairdressing, block printing and bag-making. Women enrolled in Hunar Ghar’s courses receive high-quality training allowing them to master their chosen skills. Learning improves by providing materials such as sewing machines, needles and cloth. All are entirely free for students. After completing their course, the women get an official certification to honor their hard work and achievements. Armed with the certificate, students can feel more confident in themselves and their abilities.

Hunar Ghar guides Pakistani women through the path of starting a business. After students complete their course, Hunar Ghar offers them the chance to sell their handmade products at the organization’s fundraisers and other events. Enrolled women get the opportunity to show their intricate kurtas, block print bags, hand-painted kitchenware and more to a large audience. As a result of more Pakistani consumers viewing their work, the women may begin to make a profit for themselves. Every year, nearly 250 Hunar Ghar course graduates can become entrepreneurs and establish their businesses.
Riaz Haq said…
PM Imran Khan launches Kamyab Pakistan Programme (KPP).
Under the programme, the government will provide Rs1.4 trillion micro loans to 3.7 million households across the country.
Kamyab Pakistan Programme has been designed to transform the lives of the marginalised segments of the society.

Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday launched ambitious Kamyab Pakistan Programme (KPP) worth Rs1400 billion in Islamabad to facilitate the vulnerable segments of the society.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony of Kamyab Pakistan Programme in the federal capital, PM Imran Khan said that the project should have been launched 74 years ago.

The prime minister termed the KPP a landmark initiative and said that it will bring improvement in the living standards of the common man.

“Our system is made to facilitate the elite class,” the prime minister said, adding that the state of Madina was a role model for him.

Terming the Madina state the world’s most successful model, PM Imran said that people become prosperous after a welfare state was established in Madina.

Lashing out at the previous governments, the prime minister said the flawed policies of the past left far behind our marginalized segments of the society.

“Inequality is the basis of the downfall of any society,” PM Imran added. He maintained that no government worked on the uniform syllabus in the country.

Referring to China’s progress, the prime minister said that Beijing took measures to facilitate the vulnerable segments of the society and became a developed country within 35 years.

PM Imran, while talking about petrol prices, said, “In Pakistan, prices of petroleum products are less as compared to other countries of the region.”

“We have also tried to absorb the maximum pressure of international increase in the prices of commodities. There has been 100% increase in the prices of petroleum products over the last few months but we only increased their prices by 22%,” said the prime minister.

He maintained that his government reduced sales tax and levy on petrol to facilitate the masses.

It is pertinent to mention here that under the flagship programme, the government will provide Rs1.4 trillion micro-loans to 3.7 million households across the country.

The KPP will be rolled out in phases. During the first phase, the loans will be provided to the deserving families in Gilgit-Baltistan, AJK, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the underprivileged areas of Punjab and Sindh.

In line with the vision of the prime minister to empower the masses, the government has taken multiple initiatives, which are targeted towards poverty alleviation, employment generation and provision of affordable housing for the people.

The KPP initiative has been designed to transform the lives of the marginalised segments of society. The programme shall disburse microcredit amounting to Rs1,400 billion for the poorest of the poor, providing them with much needed financial support to improve their livelihood. Financing under the KPP shall only be extended to families with a cumulative average monthly income of up to Rs50,000 per month.

This is the first programme of its kind in Pakistan’s history wherein the banks are being connected to the lowest income segment through micro-finance institutions. KPP, a brainchild of Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, is based on the concept of financial empowerment i.e. creating opportunities to improve the financial health of people with limited access to resources.

The finance minister stated that the government is firmly committed not to provide fish to the poor people but teach them how to catch one for a sustainable living arrangement under the umbrella of KPP. The whole paradigm of KPP will change the lives of the underprivileged people in Pakistan over the years. The programme is based on the most innovative financing structure in recent times.

Riaz Haq said…
PM Imran Khan launches Kamyab Pakistan Programme (KPP).
Under the programme, the government will provide Rs1.4 trillion micro loans to 3.7 million households across the country.
Kamyab Pakistan Programme has been designed to transform the lives of the marginalised segments of the society.

What is Kamyab Pakistan Programme?
KPP has five components namely (i) Kamyab Kissan (ii) Kamyab Karobar (iii) Naya Pakistan low-cost housing (iv) Kamyab Hunarmand and (v) Sehatmand Pakistan.

Under the first 3 components, micro-loans shall be disbursed amongst eligible persons registered with Ehsaas Data, scientifically collected through National Socio-economic Registry (NSER).

The last two components of KPP will be integrated with the government’s existing initiatives. Kamyab Hunarmand is designed to integrate with the government’s ongoing skill development programme for imparting educational and vocational training to our talented youth.

The KPP also includes a user-friendly portal called Kamyab Pakistan Information System (KPIS). The portal will be integrated with Ehsaas and Nadra databases for verification of beneficiaries’ eligibility to facilitate the executing agencies (i.e. MfP’s) for finalising the financing modalities in a most efficient and seamless manner.

KPP will complement the efforts of the government to counter inflation by enabling the masses to improve their livelihood.

KPP is a true dispensation of a responsible state to uplift its poor and vulnerable segments with a key focus on a “bottom-up approach” for achieving all-inclusive and sustainable economic growth as envisaged by the prime minister.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan’s ‘miraculous’ new health card scheme provides affordable treatment for the poor

Ishtiaq Ahmad has had heart trouble for years, but on security guard wages of only £72 per month, the chances of finding the £2,000 he needed for surgery had long seemed impossibly remote.

In his home city of Peshawar, in north west Pakistan, the free public hospitals are too often notorious for their poor care, while the better-regarded private hospitals are beyond the reach of all but the rich.

“I would look towards God to help, otherwise there was nothing. It was natural that if a person did not have the money, he will die, or suffer a lot,” he explained to The Telegraph.

The reason Mr Ahmad is now finally convalescing after heart valve surgery is a new government-funded health insurance scheme which is being rolled out across Pakistan.

The scheme's architects claim it has the power to quickly transform healthcare in a country where it has long lagged behind other developing nations. The Sehat health card which began as a flagship policy for prime minister Imran Khan's ruling party will soon be rolled out to cover most of the world's fifth most populous nation.


Dr Syed Shahkar Ahmed Shah, chief executive of the public Peshawar Institute of Cardiology, said: “Previously it was very frustrating because you could see these kids and adults who did not have money to pay and the government did not have enough money to fund the public hospitals.

“The families out of desperation would end up selling their land or cattle or homes to be able to afford these surgeries and the whole family would go deeper into poverty. Literally if you had a major health issue in Pakistan, it was a death sentence for the whole family. Economically they were just ruined. The Sehat card has been amazing. It really is a miraculous scheme.”

Treatment is provided through approved public or private hospitals and the comparatively low cost of healthcare in Pakistan has meant the state-owned insurance provider has been able to provide cover at around £3 per head. The card is currently costing 22bn rupees (£93m) out of a total health budget in the province of 146bn rupees (£620m).

Taimur Jhagra, a former McKinsey consultant who now holds both the health and finance ministerial portfolios in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said: “It shows us we can do big things in this country in a short amount of time. Somehow in Pakistan, and perhaps it's true the world over, you almost always feel that if there's anything with a good story, it has to be too good to be true.

He went on: “It's giving quality access to those that tend to be viewed by many as second class citizens and deserving of only second class facilities.”

The scheme will plough money into both public and private healthcare, he said, which he predicted would raise the standard in both. He defended giving money to the private sector, saying the government already funded public care. “We are not funding the private sector, we are funding health care for our citizens, wherever they want.,” he said.

Dr Shah said he had been able to use payments from the scheme to increase his doctors' pay, which he predicted would stop them jumping ship to private providers.

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