ACCESS OF COMMON PERSON TO HEALTH AND EDUCATION
TARIQ AHMED SAEEDI
Mar 29 - Apr 4, 2010
State of health and education in the country is deteriorating, as facilities are limited, underdeveloped and undersupplied to meet the demands of rising population. The government allocated 2.3 percent of the gross development product for education sector for 2009-10. This allocation was less than the recommended four percent by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), notes an annual report 2009 of Pakistan-based nongovernment organization. Similarly, government per capita health expenditure of less than US$16 for the current fiscal year was over hundred percent below than the World Health Organization's recommendation of $34 for delivery of appropriate health services, says Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in its latest report. World Economic Forum's Global Competiveness Index for 2009 ranked Pakistan 117th out of 134 countries. There is only one doctor for 1,212 persons, one dentist for 18,010 persons, and one hospital bed for 1,575 persons, according to the report.
A glance over the health and education statistics of the country can bring one to an instant conclusion that how vulnerable people of Pakistan are to malfunction when health would be required to and education for socio-economic developments in the country. Since poor people living below the poverty line constitutes near 40 percent of the population, their inability to participate and halt in their social mobilization would mean system slowdown or its susceptibility to regression.
Over the past many years, different governments started apparent revolutionary reforms in health and education sectors and commissioned special task forces for the purpose, dispensation of adequate health and education services could not penetrate far and wide in to the society. The situation becomes bad to worse in case of some unpopular physical and mental ailments as people reject existence of such ailments. In a society like Pakistan where literacy rate is low rigid mindsets are difficult to change. 35 to 40 percent of children of school going age did not attend schools until end of 2009, says the report.
The state of both education and health is poor in the country. Education gives insight into the solutions to complications of life besides making one understand the health issues more deliberately. Access to healthy life of very small numbers of people in the country has reasons in the high illiteracy rate of a major population. This does not certainly mean of state fulfilling its responsibilities solemnly. Limited outreach of health services is basically supported by people's ignorance. "Allocations for the education sector for the current fiscal year were too low to meet the towering needs of the sector despite the fact that year 2010 was declared as the year of literacy," says the report.
Budgetary allocations for the education sector have been inching up very slowly since 2001, as per the data presented in the report, increased to only 2.3 percent of GDP from 1.82 percent in 2000-01.
Government provides primary and secondary education at nominal fees or sometimes no fees. Many public schools are deprived of basic facilities. 16.8 percent of all public primary schools are without buildings, 39 percent without drinking water, 62 percent without electricity, 49 percent without toilets, and 46 percent had no boundary walls, the report citied an estimate.
World Health Organization calculated for Pakistan eye-opening health statistics for year 2009. Pakistan's total per capita health expenditure is US$18, government's expenditure on health per capita a little $3, total expenditure on health as percent of GDP two, and out of pocket expenditure as percent of total health expenditure 81.5, as per the statistics. Health index of the country gives an abysmal picture. Although the government increased percentage of health expenditures of GDP after the strings of social development attached to the foreign aids, the state of health has not improved. The countryís population exceeds beyond 161 million and more than 35 percent live below the poverty line. The infant mortality rate is 73 per 1,000 births. It is notable that Millennium Development Goals set target of 40 per 1000 by 2015 for Pakistan. The children population less than 18 of age was estimated at 70 million while around 20.80 million were less than five years of age. And 20.30 million of total children population were out of school.
A large portion of the population irrespective of being literate believes in supernatural, a reason that psychiatry as a profession could not thrive, Amin A Gadit psychiatrist of international repute wrote in his paper. "The total number of psychiatrists is 300 [for total population]. There are 125 psychiatric nurses, 480 mental health care psychologists, and 600 mental health care social workers." The barriers that inhibit scientific cure of roughly ě10-16 percent of population suffering from mild to moderate psychiatric illnesses include stigma attached to psychiatric care, poor facilities, limited awareness, illiteracy, concept about mental illness, alternate practitioners for mental health and low priority of government for mental health in the country'. A petty portion 0.4 percent of entire health budget is allocated to mental health. There were only three underdeveloped mental hospitals in Pakistan at the time of its inception in Hyderabad, Lahore, and Peshawar. First specialised mental health unit was established at Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre in 1965 and second at Government Mayo Hospital Lahore in 1967.
Unfortunately, mental maladies are not given due recognition as a disease like others many physical ailments in Pakistan.
There exists inadequate resources, inefficient mechanism, and lack of public will to minimize instances of even curable diseases. One such deadly but curable respiratory ailment is tuberculosis. According to an estimate, every year in Pakistan 62,000 people succumbed to TB.
There is a need of increase in budgetary allocation, proper legislation, curb on political appointments, and skilled workers to not only extend outreach of education but also to improve quality of education, recommends the report. There is a need to provide people with potable water, sanitation; of primary health education programme for boys and girls in rural areas and peri-urban areas; and enhancement in government expenditures on health, it adds.