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Lack of concern for healthcare in Pakistan

Mexico and Thailand health care measures best to follow

In Pakistan the health sector has been badly neglected and the policy makers have shown a lack of concern for educating the people in providing them with health care. Health is the most important conditions of well-being. In its 72 year history, Pakistan’s successive governments like civil and military have not made health a priority.

In the urban areas the general state and quality of public services is very poor. On the other hand, in the rural areas, people live far from hospitals and basic health care units.

A large portion of the rural poor incomes is spent on common diseases linked to contaminated water and unhygienic living conditions.

Disease and illness compel people into poverty through lost wages, high spending for treatment and repeated treatment for their illnesses. This is particularly due to frequent illness in the rural areas of Pakistan is poor water and sanitation systems.

In general the quality of life of the people has remained low and we have not been able to achieve higher levels of economic progress due to not developed human resources.

Most women give birth at home with the assistance of a midwife or lady health worker. Mother’s health in Pakistan remains ignored due to a numerous factors such as social, economic and even on the political ground.

Many women lose their lives in the process of giving births to their children. In Pakistan, pregnancy is not safe in its effects on the mother, newborn and household.

The under-development of the health sector is displayed in Pakistan’s poor health-related key indicators. Life expectancy at birth is 59 years while the average for other comparable countries is 61 years.

Many women lose their lives in the process of giving births to their children. In Pakistan, pregnancy is not safe in its effects on the mother, newborn and household.

The under-development of the health sector is displayed in Pakistan’s poor health-related key indicators.

We have some of the infectious diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, dengue fever, maternal and child health. Dengue fever is a viral disease associated with urban environments. The presence of fever, rash, and headache (and other pains) is particularly characteristic of dengue.

Malaria is a problem faced by the lower class and some of the upper class people in Pakistan. The unsanitary conditions and stagnant water bodies in the rural areas and city slums provide excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

The evidence of malaria varies from person to person. The characteristic indication of malaria is fever accompanied by flu like illness, muscle ache, headaches and chills. Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and cough are also observed in some cases.

The infant mortality rate is 95 per thousand as compared to 60 in other countries. Expenditure on health as a percentage of GNP also remains low.

A full pledged drive and a campaign should be launched to create awareness among the mothers regarding the hardship and impediments coming in their way.

The health department should focus more on the issue to yield maximum positive result in order to save the future of millions of women and children of the rural region.

The indifference of Pakistan’s government to health is reflected in the fact that Pakistan spends a mere 0.9 percent of its GDP on health. Only two countries, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Bangladesh, have a lower ratio of GDP to health spending.

Another indication of the government’s carelessness is the fact that public expenditure on health accounts for a little over one-third of Pakistan’s total health expenditure.

Pakistan’s citizens depend heavily on private healthcare, which they avail primarily through out-of-pocket payments. This is in great contrast not only to the developed West, but also to developing countries such as Thailand and Sri Lanka, where public expenditure accounts for most of health spending.

The poor quality of government provided health services in Pakistan is the major reason behind the large role played by the private sector in healthcare. It is sad that discussions around health policy receive little to no space in the agenda of political parties.

The newspapers tends to report heavily on specific heath-related crises such as the spread of polio and child deaths in Thar but the debate around the causes of less health services is virtually absent.

No doubt healthcare is certainly linked to problems of corruption and security, there is no reason why healthcare should not be made an immediate priority, rather than be cornered.

Pakistan is a developing economy with resource limitations is not an excuse when we look to other low-income countries that have made great progress in healthcare in the last few decades. The experiences of these countries provide bright lessons that should be applied in Pakistan.

Thailand and Mexico are examples of two developing countries that have made political commitments towards universal healthcare with very encouraging results.

Thailand also adopted an innovative measure to promote public accountability through the creation of the ‘Health Assembly’, a regular meeting where citizens voice feedback and complaints on the health system.

Mexico established a ‘System of Social Protection in Health’ in 2003, which includes a public health insurance scheme that has steadily expanded insurance coverage with a package of comprehensive health services to 52 million Mexicans.

Although health indicators in India as a whole are regrettable some states such as Tamil Nadu perform extraordinary well.

For example, Tamil Nadu’s infant mortality rate is 22 per 1,000 births and maternal mortality is 97 per 100,000 births, importantly better than many other states in India (and all provinces in Pakistan).

A distinguishing feature of Tamil Nadu is the extent to which its citizens actively lobby public officials for the provision of health and other public services.

Some lessons may be drawn from the experiences of other countries that shine in the provision of healthcare.

The government-supported universal healthcare is attainable and affordable, even in low-income countries, so long as it is made a political priority.

Countries such as Thailand and Mexico have met the healthcare needs of large number of their populations by improving public health services and providing public insurance schemes.

An activist public can play a vital role in mobilizing public health systems to serve the needs of the population. When healthcare systems are crystalline and responsible, citizen backing can influence government policy and healthcare governance with conclusive results.

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