On the health front, country still requires intensive care

Published: June 1, 2012
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With highest infant mortality rate in South Asia, Pakistan spent 0.27% of its GDP on health in 2011-12.

With highest infant mortality rate in South Asia, Pakistan spent 0.27% of its GDP on health in 2011-12.

ISLAMABAD: 

There were fewer people per doctor and hospital bed in 2011-12 compared to the preceding year as health indicators on average have been slow to improve in Pakistan, leaving the country lagging in achieving Millennium Development Goals, revealed the Economic Survey 2011-12.

Pakistan had 1,206 persons per doctor, 16,426 persons per dentist and 1,665 persons per hospital bed against a population of 179.9 million during 2011-12. Comparable ratios for 2010-11, for a population of 177.1 million, were 1,222 persons per doctor, 16,161 persons per dentist, and 1,700 persons per hospital bed.

Targets achieved in the sector during 2011-12 include addition of 4,000 hospital beds for Basic Health Units, immunisation of about seven million children against a target of 7.5 million  and distribution of 20 million packets of ORS till March 2012.

In 2011-12, 4,300 new doctors, 450 dentists and 3,000 nurses were enrolled against targets of 5,000, 500 and 4,000 respectively.

Other indicators

The prevalence of tuberculosis is nearly 300 per 100,000 of population and the treatment success rate is 91% according to the survey. A total of 4,500 HIV positive cases were reported to the national and provincial AIDS Control Programmes, including 2,700 cases of AIDS.

Quoting the recent National Nutrition Survey 2011, the economic survey said that about 32% children under five and 15% of mothers are underweight.

About 30% babies have low birth weight, reflecting poor nutrition.

Calorie intake improved to 1,700 from 1,650 per capita per day in 2010-11 compared to 2007-08. The cost of the food basket (a list of essential items ascertained by the Planning Commission) for the fiscal 2011-12 (July- March) fluctuated and a cumulative increase of about 1% was noted – from Rs1,745 to Rs1,767.

Poor performance

According to the survey, communicable diseases remain the major cause of death, maternal health problems remained extensive, infant mortality was highest in South Asia at 63/1000 and under five mortality rate at 86.5/1000 live births.

Factors which contribute to the continuous decline of health indicators include malnutrition, unhealthy dietary habits, water borne diseases and rapid population growth among others, the survey said.

The total outlay for health sector was Rs55.1 billion – Rs26.2 billion for development and Rs28.9 billion for current expenditure – which was equivalent to 0.27 percent of GDP during 2011-12, compared to 0.23 percent in 2010-11.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2012.

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