Health sector in Pakistan

Muhammad Naeem House

The health sector plays an important role in any country’s economy. According to Pakistan
economic surveys, “a healthy population is not only valued in its own right, but it also raises the human capital of a country thereby positively contributing to the economic and social development”. Therefore, a country’s investment in health sector can have a long lasting effect on its prosperity. If a country’s labour is healthy, its productivity and economic development will automatically improve. “Ill being” and “ill health” is a multidimensional term covering not only disease but also other dimensions such as hunger, exclusion, isolation, insecurity and powerlessness. Health is a basic right of every citizen in every State. Unfortunately, the citizens of Pakistan are deprived of their health rights. The health sector in Pakistan has always lacked in meeting the needs of rapidly growing population. The blame simply falls upon the level of corruption with the sector, lack of research based Practices i.e, more stress upon curative rather than preventive measures, mismanagement of fund allocated for the sector and the infrastructural weakness of hospitalising public sector. Health indicators of our country are very poor. Pakistan ranks amongst the countries with the worst health indicators, though not startlingly, since our total expenditure on health as a percentage of the GDP remains the lowest in the world: that is 2.0 per cent as compared to 5-14 per cent in developed countries. The effectiveness of any country’s health sector depends upon the budget owed to it. However, Pakistan only spent less than one percent of its gross national product (GNP) and less than four percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care. Corruption overshadows the health sector and can be classified into financial and non financial aspects. Financial issues include illegal fee from the patients, informal payments, alteration in financial records for personal gains, draining out from public fund etc. The non financial aspects may be listed as preferred treatment of patients hiding some clout, lock of staff etc. Lack of research in order to curb the disease before it spreads all over the Country has remained Pakistan’s top most problem in improving the health sector. Our officials simply neglect the quote “prevention is better than cure” and still are pursuing with the same degree of ignorance, unmindful to the vast research for health based issues around the globe. Yet, another weakness that prevails in the health sector is the lack of proper planning while utilising the funds allocated for the sector. Officers, who implement the distribution of funds, are sometimes or on most occasions, lack necessary skills required for that particular job. Moreover, one cannot deny the amount allocated for this sector in barely enough to meet the growing demand of health provision. Public hospitals by far have portrayed the worst of scenarios where lack of proper facilities and poor condition of infrastructure places the nail in the coffin.

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