Shortage of equipment and staff still remains in health sector


KARACHI: The new economic survey of Pakistan says the government is dedicated to increase the health coverage to meet the growing demand of increasing population. Health outcomes have improved 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 expand services delivery and address the shortfall in health related human resources and making better use of technology. Public private partnership need to be encouraged and coverage of public health programmes like TB, Malaria, Hepatitis and other communicable diseases need to be expanded.

According to the survey, during the first half of fiscal year 2017-18, approximate funds amounting to Rs 544.0 million were provided and utilized by the AECHs to provide diagnosis and therapeutic facilities to approximately 450,000 patients. Besides taking care of patients in the reported period, the following targets have also been


Cumulative health expenditures of federal and the provinces are estimated 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. A brief look into previous year’s performance reveals that total health expenditures increased both in terms of growth and as percentage of GDP. It grew by 29.54 percent to stand at Rs 291.90 billion during fiscal year 2016-17 against Rs 225.87 billion in 2015-16. Encouragingly, health expenditures surpassed the budget allocation of Rs 273.34 billion set for 2016-17.

While in terms of GDP, health expenditure increased to 0.91 percent during fiscal year 2016-17 from 0.77 recorded in 2015-16. During the months of Jul-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 increased by 37.51 percent. Viewed from GDP, it increased to 0.49 percent during July-February,

2017-18 from 0.38 percent recorded in the same period of fiscal year 2016-17.

It is unarguably true that health and nutrition make important contribution to economic development. Healthy people are more lively, energetic and effectively contribute in economic progress, whereas, malnutrition, ill-health and diseases are considered as barriers to economic growth. Delivering better health services has continuously been the prime objective of the government. Pakistan has a mix of public and private health service delivery system. Under 18th Constitutional Amendment, health service delivery has been transferred to the provinces, though, Pakistan Vision 2025, which was prepared in consultation with provinces provide a road map which includes reducing the widespread prevalence of communicable diseases, disease surveillance, addressing inadequacies in primary/secondary health care facilities, correcting rural/urban biases, bridging basic nutritional gaps and improving the pharmaceutical sector to ensure the availability, affordability and quality of medication drugs.

An inter-sectoral cooperation and sector wide approaches are required to achieve the pioneering goals in the years ahead for which, there is a dire need to increase resource allocation, strengthening primary health care services and motivating the human resources employed in health sector by good governance. The country’s ownership of the SDGs would be a prerequisite for health and development in future.