Pakistan’s health sector related expenditure increased by 30 percent from Rs. 505.4 billion in FY2020 to Rs. 657.2 billion in FY2021.

Pakistan’s Health Sector in Shambles Due to Govt Negligence

As per data from the Pakistan Economic Survey 2021-22, public sector expenditure on health is estimated at 1.2 percent of GDP in 2020-21, as compared to 1.1 percent in 2019-20, rising by Rs. 151.774 billion. This increase in expenditures is mainly driven by COVID-19-related expenses such as procurement of vaccines, the establishment of vaccine centers, testing kits, vaccine storage facilities, etc.

In 2022, the Government expanded health infrastructure by increasing the number of hospitals, Rural Health Units (RHUs), Basic Health Units (BHUs), doctors, dentists, and dispensaries to meet the growing health services demand. However, COVID-19 had disrupted the major strides in the health sector as the resources were shifted to contain the spread of the fourth and fifth waves of the pandemic. It was a threat to the health system, lives, and livelihood which was successfully contained by the Government through timely procurement and a massive vaccination drive. In FY2022, health expenditures increased to 30 percent because of timely procurement and deployment of vaccines to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Despite having an overburdened and underequipped health system, Pakistan contained the COVID-19 outbreak successfully. The Government remained focused on upgrading the health system in response to the challenges faced. To provide quality health care services to the masses, especially the poor, Government extended Universal health coverage through Sehat Sahulat Card for reducing health inequality in the country. The project has benefited millions across the country so far by providing them with health coverage of up to Rs. 1 million. The Government showed its commitment to developing an inclusive health system, reducing malnutrition, and expanding basic health care in the country.

However, low financial allocation for health, weak governance, and excessive focus on tertiary rather than primary health care are the problems that need to be addressed for achieving long-term sustainable economic development. With a low financial allocation, Pakistan lags behind the world in providing health coverage to its population. Although the Sehat Sahulat Card is a step in the right direction, it is not available to the people of Sindh and Balochistan.

Furthermore, health infrastructure throughout Pakistan has registered little to no improvement. Barring the main hubs of the country, the people in the remote areas are still extremely vulnerable and have limited access to Pakistan’s health sector facilities. As per the data, the total number of hospitals in Pakistan stood at 1,276 with 146,053 beds, which translates to approximately 174,451 people per hospital and 1,524 people per bed, respectively. Furthermore, the number of registered doctors in 2021 stood at 266,430, which means that Pakistan has one doctor per 835 people. These figures paint a grim outlook for the health sector and call for immediate attention from the Government.

Source: This news is originally published by propakistani

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