Pakistan is among those underdeveloped countries of the world where infant and maternal mortality rate has been on the rise in past several years.
The country is bearing the two-fold burden of diseases and inadequate health care facilities despite starting major initiatives to overcome them and huge international funding, reveals the Economic Survey 2010-11.
The high population growth rate, one of the highest in the world, and poverty are further complicating and worsening the situation, said the survey that gives economic indicators for the year. An allocation of Rs16.9 billion was made for 82 projects in the Public Sector Development Programme during 2010-11, which is not sufficient when compared with the increasing population and requirements of health services, the survey said.
The country is facing an immense shortage of doctors and nurses. According to the survey, by 2010, there were 144,901 physicians, 10,508 dentists, 73,244 nurses and 27,153 midwives serving a population of well over 170 million people. There were 972 registered hospitals across the country with 104,137 beds, 4,842 dispensaries and 5,344 basic health units.
To overcome health issues and provide better health service facilities in both private and public sectors, the government initiated the Benazir Income Support Programme, Pakistan Baitul Mal Food Security Programme, and provision of Vitamin A supplements to children less than five years of age and micronutrient deficiency control programme. However, it is far behind in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 3rd, 2011.