PAKISTAN with more than 160 million people and a growth rate of 2.8 per cent stands amongst the most populous countries of the world.
Almost 60 million people in this country do not have access to basic health facilities.
Some 67 million are compelled to drink unhygienic water which is resulting in ever mounting waterborne diseases like cholera and diarrhoea.
Sadly, due to lack of health centres, 89 per cent deliveries are conducted by traditional birth attendants at home, who are unable to manage the complications that may arise and due to this many mothers and newborn babies have to bear the brunt.
According to reports, the maternal mortality rate in Pakistan — 86 women die for 1,000 births — is the highest in South Asia.
This can easily be reduced by establishing basic health centres in rural areas by raising awareness among the people.
Moreover, 90 million people have no basic sanitation. There is one doctor for 1,837 people, one dentist for 46,498 persons, one primary care facility for 14,900 people and one hospital bed for 1,503 persons. This shows a clear picture of our vastly deprived health sector.
Surprisingly, our total expenditure on health is two per cent of the GDP as compared to developed countries’ five to 14 percent.
A recent World Bank report alerts that Pakistan is facing a health crisis with rising rates of heart diseases, diabetes, obesity and other non – communicable diseases (NCDs) which are disproportionately affecting poor families and aggravating the poverty situation.
Moreover, due to major illnesses people have to pay for most of their care out of their savings or by selling their possessions and then finding themselves caught in a poverty trap where they can’t get better and they can’t work.
Despite setting some major targets our policy makers have not been able to improve health conditions, which are leaving a negative impact on poor families.
It is time the ministry of health took some bold initiatives in this regard.
GULAB BALOCH Turbat