ISLAMABAD: The healthcare system of Pakistan is beset with numerous problems mainly because of the apathy of the past governments toward the health sector, which is evident from the fact that the previous three governments have failed to develop a “National Health Policy”.
The last National Health Policy was framed in 2002 and no successive government made any such policy afterwards due to which the country miserably failed to meet the health-related targets.
The health experts and the common people have attached high hopes with the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to bring about a change in the health sector since the party gave due preference to health in its election campaign. In this regard, the formulation of a National Health Policy would be its first test.
Talking to Pakistan Today, national manager of AIDS programme, Dr Baseer Khan Achakzai, accepted the fact that there is no national health policy. “We approved national health policy of 2002 and then a national health policy was framed in 2009 but it was never approved. Therefore, there is need for such a policy to deal with health-related challenges.”
He said that due to the non-conformity at the federal and provincial level, the country is facing problems to meet the commitments made by the World Health Organisation (WHO). He added that there is an urgent need to frame a national health policy in order to ensure coordination between federal and provincial governments to meet the targets.
In this regard, he said that there is a dire need to spend more money on public health, adding that diarrhoea is a major killer in Pakistan among five-year-old children because there are no treatment facilities at the rural level.
Former vice-chancellor of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University (SZAMBU), Professor Javed Akram, said that there is a need to declare a health emergency for five years to make health care a priority. He said that at present, there is no short-term, mid-term or long-term health policy in the country due to which we are facing numerous issues. He added that the government should frame such a policy immediately in consultation with all the stakeholders.
He stressed the need to construct big hospitals across the country, adding that the government should also focus on making the closed basic health units and secondary health centres functional.