Pakistan is home to some of the best medical institutions the world has seen. Medical practitioners in Pakistan possess the required skill set and technical know how that goes into becoming a well-established doctor. However, not many Pakistanis have the option of being treated by the best. As a result, this leads to advanced medical care for only the privileged few who can afford it. The rest of the population is thrust into the abysmal care of the government sector, whereby statistics prove that quality healthcare in Pakistan comes at a very high cost.
Pakistan has recently seen a huge boom in the pharmaceutical industry. Despite this fact, and the amount of money being spent towards medical education, not much progress on the part of our government has been made. Research suggests that Pakistan spends only 0.9% of its GDP on healthcare. Furthermore, only about one-third of Pakistan’s entire health budget is spent on health. As a result, the high infant mortality rate is 66 out of every 1000 births. In addition, 170 women out of every 100,000 die during child birth.
The sheer disregard for human life lies not only in the hands of terrorists and murderers, but also those who misuse power to reap economic benefits for their own personal gains, rather than investing in deserving causes. Experts say that one of the greatest adversities facing Pakistan is lack of healthcare facilities. Due to this, those desperate to acquire healthcare get involved in theft, gambling, drugs and various other criminal activities. Therefore, healthcare should be given its due importance, and not be deemed as less important on the priority list.
Doctors and nurses in the private sector may be well trained, but the public sector showcases a stark contrast. For instance, hospitals in Sindh have a huge shortage of trained professional staff. Often, the patients are made to wait for hours on end, or neglected completely by the staff. Furthermore, not many people are bothered to protest, since they have no hope of being heard by public officials. Above all that, there is also a major lack of healthcare facilities and medical equipment that is required for proper treatment. Those in the pharmaceutical companies focus more on the business aspect of selling medicine, rather than the humanitarian aspect of trying to help someone in need.
In 2011, the Drug Registration Board (DRB) met at the request of the former Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani. Thereby, 30 medical devices and 210 medicines were approved. These included vaccines and medications for the treatment of various types of disorders, including blood disorders, thalassemia and cardiac disorders. However, these efforts saw endless drawbacks, such as poor pricing strategies, and backward approval processes that deemed Pakistan an unfit market to carry out such trade.
It is a massive misconception that developing countries are unable to afford quality healthcare. The main objective is to make healthcare a priority, rather than focusing on unattainable missions that will lead the country to nowhere. This is a highly important step towards eliminating corruption. Furthermore, more activists need to start raising their voice and protesting regarding the unavailability of quality healthcare. Lastly, the government needs to learn from the examples set by the private healthcare sector in order to improve standards of healthcare in the public sector.
All in all, efforts that need to be made, require primarily a major input by the Pakistani government to improve healthcare standards. Furthermore, healthcare is not only limited to adequate medical facilities. It also goes hand in hand with hygienic environment, devoid of pollution and contamination. Therefore, it should be dealt with as a humanitarian project, rather than another business venture.