The state of health in Pakistan: An overview

Type Journal Article - The Lahore Journal of Economics
Title The state of health in Pakistan: An overview
Volume 18
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
Page numbers 233-247
Although the Millennium Development Goals provide countries with wellrounded objectives for achieving human development over a period of 25 years, Pakistan is not on track to achieving the health-related goals. With the eighth highest newborn death rate in the world, in 2001–07 one in every ten children born in Pakistan died before reaching the age of five. Similarly, women have a 1 in 80 chance
of dying of maternal health causes during reproductive life. Compared to other South Asian countries, Pakistan currently lags behind in immunization coverage, contraceptive use, and infant and child mortality rates. Expenditure as a percentage of private expenditure on health is about 98 percent, positioning Pakistan among those countries with the highest share of out-of-pocket payments relative to total health expenditure (World Health Organization, 2009). Pakistan is also going through an epidemiological transition where it faces the double burden of communicable diseases combined with maternal and perinatal conditions, as well as chronic, noninfectious diseases. The landscape of public health service delivery presents an uneven distribution of resources between rural and urban areas: The rural poor are at a clear disadvantage in terms of primary and tertiary health services, and also fail to benefit fully from public programs such as the immunization of children. The poor state of public facilities overall has contributed to the diminished role of public health facilities, while the private sector’s role in the provision of service delivery has increased enormously. Following the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, the health sector has been devolved to the provinces, but the distribution of responsibilities and sources of revenue generation between the tiers remains unclear. A multipronged national health policy is needed that tackles the abysmal child and maternal health indicators, and reduces the burden of disease. Moreover, it is imperative to improve the provision of primary and tertiary healthcare with a strong monitoring system in place.

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