Pak-Sino Health Pak-Sino Health Diplomacy: The global developments are shifting the nature of human interaction across a wide range of social sphere including the economic, political, cultural, health and environmental. Globalization is driving a world system comprising national economies and societies that are increasingly influenced by factors outside their borders. Contemporary globalization is a driving force behind the rise of health as a foreign policy concern. Currently, many governments are implementing structural and administrative reforms aimed at improving health system performance. Many of these reforms are advocated by international organizations and consequently, the focus tends to concentrate on areas such as financing, management, and structure of health system. Among the major focus of reforms is to ensure quality health care provisions are affordable to all and that health service should be accessible to all.

Historically, Pakistan and China have a multidimensional relationship, providing a good example of peaceful coexistence between two states with differing beliefs, social, cultural, and ever changing geo-political archetypes. China has supported Pakistan economically, militarily and politically, while Pakistan was China’s only reliable free world diplomatic partner during its international isolation. Since its founding in 1949, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been connecting significance to utilize health as a tool for endorsement of foreign relations, playing different function at different times. Similarly, launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013, the OBOR/BRI vision proposed to push economic integration and connectivity across the three continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe, through the construction of new land and maritime transport infrastructures and the development of pipelines and information networks. This grand vision envisages an overland “Silk Road Economic Belt” across the Eurasian continent and a “Maritime Silk Road” across Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean. Given its geo-strategic position, Pakistan is ideally poised to serve as interconnection between the two routes; that is the reason the Chinese leadership has acknowledged CPEC as a flagship project in the whole scheme of OBOR/BRI.

Traditionally, health issues have resided in a political position in policy practice, so as having momentous importance in CPEC project. In recent years, certain health issues have received attention at the highest levels of national and international politics. The threats from bioterrorism, infectious diseases, pandemic and epidemic diseases, viruses of special concern and an increasing awareness of the link between health and economic development have each devised a role in relating health to the traditional foreign policy goals of protecting state security and promoting national economic interests. Health and diplomacy are closely linked phenomenon as health is a highly scientific and technical domain and states cannot ignore the epidemiological reality of many health crises, it can be hypothesized that the health research community and scientific research evidence play a powerful influencing role in the development process.

The architecture of health diplomacy is progressively multifaceted in the 21st century. The mounting awareness of the prospective value of the assimilation of health in foreign policy as a phenomenon worthy of further attention, principally in the CPEC. The geo-strategic corridor is beneficial not only for Pak-Sino relations but also, for the regional development that will eventually benefit all neighboring countries. In this regard the government of Pakistan, health and foreign policy planners may perform the following roles:

  • Integrate a health perspective into traditional foreign policy and create an information platform for Pak-Sino Health Diplomacy.
  • Establish the coordinating office for Health Diplomacy to highlight the connection between health and well-being, social and economical development.
  • Utilize science and technology, and health personnel in diplomatic activities/missions and promote strategic joint research and development with China and regional countries with high diplomatic importance.
  • And, exhibit good moral character; exceptionally give priority to fight against corruption and nepotism throughout not only CPEC development but also, society as-a-whole.

Pakistan’s location at the cusp of Central Asia, South Asia, and West Asia makes it ideally suited for inter-regional trade. The infrastructures developed under the CPEC will not only facilitate Pakistan but also China, to accomplish the dream of becoming a regional and global trading, diplomatic and health tourism nuclei. Once the projects are put into practice, Pakistan’s geo-strategic location should make it a potential nexus for the Eurasian “Silk Road Economic Belt” and a Southeast Asian “Maritime Silk Road”. The CPEC could then not only serve as a game changer for Pakistan, but also for the entire region.