Annual report: ‘Pakistan has the weakest healthcare system in South Asia’

Published: December 17, 2014
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Health insurance scheme pilot planned for Layyah, Rajanpur, Hafizabad, Chakwal. STOCK IMAGE

Health insurance scheme pilot planned for Layyah, Rajanpur, Hafizabad, Chakwal. STOCK IMAGE

KARACHI: The health sector’s situation in Pakistan is grim and as it stands today, things are not going to improve.

The Pakistan Policy Institute’s (PPI) annual report pointed out that the country’s health sector was neglected and the hiring of incompetent staff was taking a toll on Pakistan’s healthcare system. According to the report, state-run hospitals only provide facilities to 30 per cent of the masses while private hospitals were taking care of the rest.

“Pakistan has the weakest healthcare system in South Asia as basic health facilities are decreasing in government-run hospitals,” said the institute’s chairperson, Dr Gholam Mujtaba. He claimed that the standard of medical education in Pakistan had not been updated. He said that in other parts of the world, doctors were using advanced technology to treat various diseases while Pakistan was lagging behind.

A crippling disease

With around 283 cases in the country, Mujtaba said that the polio virus was paralysing children everywhere. He added that the anti-polio campaign that started more than 20 years ago had not been able to succeed due to political instability and the worsening law and order situation in the country.

Drought-affected Thar

In Thar, more than 500 people,  mostly children, died due to malnutrition and other diseases. The report stated that multivitamins from abroad were being sold openly in the market while there was a shortage of life-saving drugs and vaccines. It claimed that the health sector’s problems were just increasing in the country and suggested that the government should allocate more than 2.2 per cent of its annual budget for health.

Itchy situation

Mujtaba said that since 2012 there had been a 20 per cent increase in measles cases in the country and several lives could have been saved if children had been vaccinated. The report revealed that in Pakistan a child dies every minute from a treatable disease, such as cholera and almost 40,000 children die every year before the age of one while around 30,000 women die from pregnancy-related complications.

Dr Mujtaba claimed that there were nearly 600,000 quacks playing with the lives of people in the country. He said that around 500,000 cases of malaria were reported in Pakistan every year.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2014.

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