Health care in Pakistan

Overview

Healthcare in Pakistan is administered mainly in the private sector which accounts for approximately 80% of all outpatient visits. The public sector was until recently led by the Ministry of Health, however the Ministry was abolished in June 2011 and all health responsibilities (mainly planning and fund allocation) were devolved to provincial Health Departments which had until now been the main implementers of public sector health programs. Like other South Asian countries, health and sanitation infrastructure is adequate in urban areas but is generally poor in rural areas. About 19% of the population and 30% of children under age of five are malnourished.

Ministry of Health of Pakistan states that health expenditure of period 2007-08 was 3.791 billion Pakistani rupees while that spent on development was 14.272 billion.

Priority diseases

Most common and lethal diseases in Pakistan include:

  • Acute respiratory infection (51%): Among the victims of ARI, most vulnerable are children whose immune systems have been weakened by malnutrition. In 1990,National ARI Control Programme was started in order to reduce the mortality concerned with pneumonia and other respiratory diseases. In following three years, death rates among victims under age of five in Islamabad had been reduced to half. In 2006, there were 16,056,000 reported cases of ARI, out of which 25.6% were children under age of five.
  • Viral hepatitis (7.5%): Viral Hepatitis, particularly that caused by types B and C are major epidemics in Pakistan with nearly 12 million individuals infected with either of the virus. The main cause remains massive overuse of therapeutic injections and reuse of syringes during these injections in the private sector healthcare.
  • Malaria (16%): It is a problem faced by the lower-class people in Pakistan. The unsanitary conditions and stagnant water bodies in the rural areas and city slums provide excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Use of nets and mosquito repellents is becoming more common. A programme initiated by the government aims to bring down malarial incidence below 0.01% by the year 2011. In Pakistan, malarial incidence reaches its peak in September.1000 Million people has been died from Malaria since Pakistan came into being till December 2012. In 2006, there were around 4,390,000 new reported cases of fever.
  • Diarrhea (15%): There were around 4,500,000 reported cases in 2006, 14% of which were children under the age of five.
  • Dysentery (8%) and Scabies (7%)
  • Others: goitre, hepatitis and tuberculosis
Controllable diseases
  • Cholera: As of 2006, there were a total of 4,610 cases of suspected cholera.However, the floods of 2010 suggested that cholera transmission may be more prevalent than previously understood. Furthermore, research from the Aga Khan University suggests that cholera may account for a quarter of all childhood diarrhea in some parts of rural Sindh.
  • Dengue fever: An outbreak of dengue fever occurred in October 2006 in Pakistan. Several deaths occurred due to misdiagnosis, late treatment and lack of awareness in the local population. But overall, steps were taken to kill vectors for the fever and the disease was controlled later, with minimal casualties.
  • Measles: As of 2008, there were a total of 441 reported cases of measles in Pakistan.
  • Meningococcal meningitis: As of 2006, there were a total of 724 suspected cases of Meningococcal meningitis.

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