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Rising health expenditure

The Ministry of Finance, Government of Pakistan revealed in their statistical report that the cumulative health expenditures of federal and the provinces are predicted at Rs 384.57 billion for fiscal year 2017-18 which is 31.75 percent higher than the actual expenditures of Rs 291.90 billion realized during fiscal year 2016-17. The government officials also mentioned that the total health expenditures in Pakistan grew both in terms of growth and as percentage of GDP (gross domestic products). It rose by 29.54 percent to stand at Rs 291.90 billion during fiscal year 2016-17 as compared to Rs 225.87 billion in 2015-16.

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Encouragingly, health expenditures surpassed the budget allocation of Rs 273.34 billion set for 2016-17. While in terms of GDP, health expenditure rose to 0.91 percent during fiscal year 2016-17 from 0.77 registered in 2015-16. The Finance Ministry also recorded that during the months of July-February, 2017-18 health expenditures consumed 43.5 percent of budget allocation to reach Rs 167.16 billion against the expenditure of Rs 121.57 billion in the comparable period of fiscal year 2016-17.

In terms of growth it rose by 37.51 percent. Viewed from GDP, it increased to 0.49 percent during July-February, 2017-18 from 0.38 percent registered in the same period of fiscal year 2016-17. It is worth mentioning that the fiscal year 2017-18 has posted a considerable rise in budget allocation for health expenditures explaining 40.7 percent growth by allocating Rs 384.57 billion during fiscal year 2017-18 as against to Rs 273.34 billion during fiscal year 2016-17.

 

No doubt the Government of Pakistan is dedicated to raise the health coverage to meet the rising demand of growing population. Health outcomes have enhanced over the years but some critical weakness is a shortage of equipment and staff that continues to affect health system. There is a dire need to enlarge services delivery and address the crisis in health related human resources and making better use of technology in the country.

Public private partnership need to be encouraged and coverage of public health programs such as Malaria, TB, Hepatitis and other communicable diseases need to be enlarged. Furthermore, according to the break-up of federal and provincial share in total public spending on health during July-February, 2017-18, the major share of spending on health has been observed in Punjab (84.8 percent) followed by Sindh (41.4 percent), KPK (17.6 percent) and Balochistan (11.3 percent). Furthermore, the achievements of the health sector during 2016-17 included establishment of 3,100 hospital beds, 5,000 new doctors, 500 dentists, 3,200 Nurses, 4,500 paramedics, 450 Traditional Birth Attendants and 9,000 Leady Health Workers (LHWs).

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Under the National Expanded Program for Immunization, about 7 million children were immunized and 18 million packets of ORS were distributed during 2016-17.

In the Finance Ministry the officials also mentioned that the target for fiscal year 2017-18 is 4,000 hospital beds, 5,000 new doctors, 700 dentists, 4,000 Nurses, 5,000 paramedics and 1,000 Traditional Birth Attendants and 8,000 LHWs. Under the preventive program, about 8 million children will be immunized and 25 million packets of ORS will be distributed during 2017-18.

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