Health is like money, we never have a true idea of its value until we lost it. Health crises in Pakistan are as deeply prevalent as other social ills have been.
Health, like many other aspects of life, is no more a thing that is at one’s own whims. Nowadays, a disease in a far-flung country can become a risk for global security within a matter of days.
The supersonic speed at which the COVID-19 is spreading with its multiple variants is a particular case in point. As far as the prevalence of health crisis across Pakistan is concerned, it is an issue that’s been less in focus and more in impact.
Despite the widespread prevalence of infectious diseases like Tuberculosis, HIV, AIDS, COVID-19, Typhoid, and many other diseases of serious nature; health has largely been a sector of ignorance on the part of policymakers. Their unresponsiveness is evident from the very nominal allocation of the health budget in overall national expenditures. As revealed by the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2020-21, the country’s health expenditure totaled 1.2 percent of the gross domestic product in the outgoing financial year against five percent advocated by the World Health Organization.
Contrary to that, the U.S. spent nearly 17 percent of its GDP on health care services. Among the developed countries the US so far has been the biggest investor in public health.
Moreover, Germany, Switzerland, and France are among the countries that spent more than 11 percent of their GDP on health in 2018 alone.
Pakistan has the highest number of newborn deaths in the region and a newborn dies every two minutes, Dawn news quoted UNICEF Chief as saying. Other than this the issues like malnutrition, child stunting, and the highest rates of infant mortality point towards the permanency of the health crisis on the land of pure.
So far, the country has recorded high rates of malnutrition. According to a recent report, Pakistan experiences the double burden of malnutrition.
Besides, forty percent of children under the age of five years are stunted. A 2020 UNICEF report also revealed the highest stunting in children and reported that 2 out of every 10 children are stunted. The causes of the prevailing health crisis are the low allocation of the health budget, poor health insurance of people, lack of health-related awareness among the people at large, and above all the absence of democratic spirit to demand the healthcare facilities from the center.
Also, the lack of emergency treatments and distant locations of hospitals leave many injured and serious patients unattended. Another very pertinent reason for the prevalence of health crisis in Pakistan is the diversion of public attention from scientific, and rational knowledge towards the spiritual aspects of nature. The mitigation of health crises is possible in many ways.
One, health awareness should be preferred as a matter of national concern. Second, a comprehensive national health care policy should be enacted. China’s healthcare policy to facilitate rural healthcare is extremely notable in this regard. More focus on environment cleaning can also be helpful to defeat health issues.
Last but not least recommendation for getting away with the deep-seated health crisis is the increased budget allocation for health so that the country can fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals as well. To conclude, people and governments must agree on the stance that health is an investment, not an expense.