Document Type

Article

Department

Community Health Sciences

Abstract

The health care system in Pakistan is beset with numerous problems--structural fragmentation, gender insensitivity, resource scarcity, inefficiency and lack of functional specificity and accessibility. Faced with a precarious economic situation characterized by heavy external debt and faltering productivity, Pakistan's room to maneuver with health sector reform is quite limited. Although the recently announced Devolution Plan provides a window of opportunity, it must go beyond and introduce far-reaching changes in the health and social sectors. Regionalization of health care services in an integrated manner with functional specificity for each level of care is an essential step. Integration of current vertical programs within the framework of a need-based comprehensive primary health care system is another necessary step. Most importantly, fostering a public-private partnership to share the cost of basic primary health care and public health services must be an integral part of any reform. Pakistan must also make the health care system more gender sensitive through appropriate training programs for the service providers along with wide community participation in decision-making processes. Relevant WHO/World Bank/UNDP developed tools could be extremely useful in this respect. The article is based on a critical analysis of secondary data from the public domain as well as from various research projects undertaken by the Aga Khan University. It also draws from the experiences of health sector reform carried out in other countries, particularly those in the Asia-Pacific region. The purpose is to inform and hopefully influence, public policy as the country moves towards devolution.

Publication

Journal of Pakistan Medical Association

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