Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, as said by WHO. And this state of well-being is the right of every individual who sees this world. Unfortunately geographical distribution, socio-economic statuses, ethnic & racial differences and genetics put some populations more vulnerable to deceases. Political framework and local health structure plays its role as health determinants that add up to determine the health outcome of any population.
Health inequity has undoubtedly remained a major issue in developing countries, and my background being from Pakistan compels me to say that it is no exception. I will like to highlight in brief the health structure of Pakistan, as an attempt to understand the lag.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that the out-of-pocket health expenditure in Pakistan is 71 per cent, and is a burden for the poor. The private sectors deliver good health care but is out of reach for majority of the population of the country, and the quality of care is more like self generated standards.
Majority of the population resides in rural areas and to avail government services are their only resort. The deplorable quality of government provided facilities results in acquisition of the poorest health services, contributing to the rise in morbidity and mortality rate in the region.
The women status in rural settings explains why there is high mortality and morbidity in women in Pakistan. It is associated with delay in access to health services, restrictions on women’s mobility, domestic violence, mental stress emanating from male unemployment, armed conflict and deaths due to armed conflict, and the high workload placed on women.
Despite availability of effective policies and implementation strategies lack of political will and economic crisis is the major factor that holds us back in progressing in health sector.
Efforts at national level well as Global intervention is required to address health iniquities. At present many combined projects in collaboration with China and Turkey are in progress. US is also working closely with local NGO’s and the Ministry of Health to provide ongoing medical assistance to address critical health issues.
ATTA-UR-REHMAN (2009). ‘Most Pakistanis Have Poor Health Services’