Our ignored health sector

Four health workers killed during a vaccination drive in Quetta, famine death toll rises to 117 in Thar

Aima Khosa December 05, 2014

On November 24, a very ill 40-year-old from Chiniot was admitted to Faisalabad Allied Hospital with symptoms of Ebola. On the same day, the Supreme Court took notice of deaths of infants at a public hospital in Sargodha where 27 young lives were lost in less than a week. Meanwhile in Shabqadar, a polio worker was injured. As these words were being written, four health workers had been attacked and killed during a vaccination drive in Quetta. Over a period of three days, the famine death toll in Thar rose to 117.

While the tests of the suspected Ebola patients came out negative — he was in the terminal stage of hepatitis C, with an episode of haemorrhagic dengue fever — these simultaneous public health crises are a dark reminder of the afflictions Pakistanis are falling prey to every day. It is also making the public increasingly look towards the provincial governments for strengthening the health sector with reforms that deliver.

In its war on polio, the provincial governments face resistance from the very people they are fighting for. Despite the perception that there is a general agreement on the need for eradication of polio, hundreds of families turn away health workers because there are no public awareness campaigns in their areas and because they cannot shake off the fear that the drive serves a sinister political purpose.

As a citizen of this country, I do not know if there are any efforts the Sindh government is making to minimise loss of human lives in the Thar famine because headlines from that province tend to focus on the theatrics in the assemblies over identities and political power. At such times, one wonders about the role of the federal government in this regard.

There are four national subjects in health: health information, including research, health regulation; international commitments, national health policy, with respect to federal mandates in health, overarching norms, norms of care, inter-sectoral action, trade in health, health technology and disaster response. It is also a national responsibility to ensure policy coordination, and support provinces with weak capacity.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2014.


Parvez | 9 years ago | Reply

When the high-and-mighty go abroad for the slightest medical treatment AT THE COUNTRY'S EXPENSE.......it is small wonder that the health sector is in the dumps.

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