Pakistan's medical infrastructure crisis puts essential medicines out of reach

Ronit Kawale
Ronit Kawale  - Senior Editor
4 Min Read

A large section of Pakistan's population does not have access to primary and basic health care. As The News International reports, the state of medical infrastructure in Pakistan is becoming critical, especially for people who need essential medicines and injections like insulin, as the cost of these medicines is out of their reach.

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In the news of Pakistani newspaper The News International, the example of Muhammad Buta was given and it was said that a domestic worker in Lahore needs a dose of insulin every 10 days. And the cost of just one of these injections is almost 40 percent of his salary. Millions of people in Pakistan are in a similar situation as they rely on incredible charitable donations for their life-saving medicines.

According to a report by Sehat Kahani, a Pakistani NGO, more than 50 percent of Pakistanis do not have access to basic primary health services, and about 42 percent do not have access to health coverage.

It has also been said in the News International report that the situation may become worse. In February the country's cabinet raised the prices of 146 essential medicines, putting many of them even further out of reach for low-income people.

This serious situation is due to the severe lack of government funding for the health infrastructure. According to 2021 data, the government of Pakistan spends only 0.84 percent of its GDP on health services. This is less than the 0.94 percent of GDP it spent in 2019 and less than a third of the 2.62 percent average of other lower-middle income countries.

The News International report further said, in 2021, out of 189 countries, Pakistan came at 176th in terms of the amount spent by the government on health care relative to the size of its economy. Pointing out that the government has not prioritized funding for healthcare.

The biggest thing is that a human rights organization of Pakistan had raised the demand of making the right to health a constitutional right in its campaign titled 'The Right to Health a People's Manifesto'.

The country is facing one of the worst economic crises in its history due to rising poverty, inflation and unemployment. News reports claimed that in other areas, Pakistan's population was suffering from some crisis even before the current turmoil.

A World Food Program report estimated that in 2018, 21 percent of Pakistan's population was undernourished and 44 percent of children under five were stunted. The Asian Development Bank reported that out of every 1,000 children born in Pakistan in 2020, 65 will die before their fifth birthday. About 25 percent of the population did not have access to electricity in 2020. Additionally, the country is also affected by one of the most serious climate change crises.

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