Pakistan’s healthcare system

September 23, 2019

Like any other third world state, Pakistan’s healthcare system demonstrated a sorry picture of negligence and dilapidation. The rampant cases of infectious diseases like Dengue Fever, Congo Virus, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, Poliomyelitis and TB were glaring illustration of the predicament.

It is unarguably true that health and nutrition make important contribution to economic development. Healthy people are more lively, energetic and effectively contribute in economic progress, whereas, malnutrition, ill health and diseases are considered as barriers to economic growth. Delivering better health services has continuously been the prime objective of the government. Pakistan has a mix of public and private health service delivery system. Under 18th Constitutional Amendment, health service delivery has been transferred to the provinces, though, Pakistan Vision 2025, which was prepared in consultation with provinces provide a road map which includes reducing the widespread prevalence of communicable diseases, disease surveillance, addressing inadequacies in primary/secondary health care facilities, correcting rural/urban biases, bridging basic nutritional gaps and improving the pharmaceutical sector to ensure the availability, affordability and quality of medication drugs. An inter-sectoral cooperation and sector wide approaches are required to achieve the pioneering goals in the years ahead for which, there is a dire need to increase resource allocation, strengthening primary health care services and motivating the human resources employed in health sector by good governance.

Meanwhile, A 10 years old boy in Sindh lost his life after a dog bite because the hospitals he was rushed to in Shikarpur and Larkana had run out of the vaccine for rabies earlier this month. This is gross negligence on part of the hospital administration because if the masses start losing lives due to manageable situations, it only speaks for the sad state of affairs at the hospitals in this country. At the same time, the recent trade ban on India is also having a lot of impact on the Pakistani market.

One such impact is the trade of medicines. The pharmaceutical industry in Pakistan is heavily dependent on the import of medicines from India. Despite the government lifting the ban, there is an obvious impact on the market. The local industry should either work towards self-sufficiency or look towards cheaper import options to save these precious lives.

A country that allocates only four percent of its annual budget to health is bound to be stuck in this vicious cycle where health is neglected and the services provided by the health care centers is not up to the standards. Two hospitals within the same province were out of common vaccinations. It is also a huge question mark on the performance of the Sindh government in the successive years and their inability to improve the health conditions in the province. Many stories of negligence have emerged in the last couple of years and the provincial government needs to be mobilised to handle the situation in an effective manner.

Pakistan Vision 2025, which was prepared in consultation with provinces provide a road map which includes reducing the widespread prevalence of communicable diseases, disease surveillance, addressing inadequacies in primary/secondary health care facilities, correcting rural/urban biases, bridging basic nutritional gaps and improving the pharmaceutical sector to ensure the availability, affordability and quality of medication drugs.

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