Pakistan News

Economic Survey 2022-23: Health indicators post abysmal growth

ISLAMABAD: Economic Survey of Pakistan on Thursday showed that there was no visible improvement in health indicators during the last financial year, with the vaccination rate for measles registering a two per cent decline in 2021.

On the other hand, life expectancy which has been increasing across the globe for the last few decades was reduced in Pakistan during the last year of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in power. The life expectancy at the time of birth was 66.3 years in 2020 but in 2021, it was reduced to 66.1 years, according to the survey.

The immunisation rate for measles dropped by 2 per cent; it was 83pc in 2020 but dropped to 81pc in the next year.

Other health indicators did not show any visible improvement as the neonatal mortality rate (Per 1,000 live births) was 40.4 in 2020 but the next year it dropped to only 39.4. Under-five mortality rate (Per 1,000 live births) was reduced from 65.5 to 63.3 children. A little improvement was observed in the mortality rate for infants (per 1,000 live births) as it dropped from 54.4 to 52.8 deaths in 2021.

Life expectancy, measles vaccination post decline

The comparison of years 2018 and 2019 also showed some worrying numbers such as the prevalence of anaemia in women of reproductive age (aged 15-49) was 41.4pc in 2018 and it dropped to only 41.3pc. In 2018, as many as 47.5pc infants of up to five months of age were exclusively breastfed but in 2019 the number was recorded at 47.8pc.

Increase in health professionals

The number of health professionals increased over the years as there were 266,430 doctors in 2021 which increased to 282,383 in year 2022. Dentists were 30,501 in 2021, but the number increased to 33,156 next year. The number of nurses was 121,245 in 2021 which increased to 127,855 in 2022. The number of midwives increased by 2,000 and reached 46,110.

The expenditure on the health sector had increased from 1pc to 1.4pc of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the financial year 2021-22. The food availability per capita per annum also shows abysmal indicators as there were only 7.8kg of pulses, 172 litres of milk, 24kg of meat, and only 2.8kg of fish available to each person in FY 22-23.

The economic survey claimed that almost 80 per cent of the cancer burden in Pakistan was borne by Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission’s (PAEC) cancer hospitals with annual treatment of approximately 40,000 cancer patients. The PAEC, with its well-equipped nuclear medicine, radiotherapy and radiology departments and a workforce of 278 doctors, has contributed through the application of nuclear technology in the health sector. To cater to the patients hailing from remote areas, the PAEC, on average, establishes one cancer hospital every three years.

It claimed that Islamabad Healthcare Regulatory Authority (IHRA) focused on improving the quality, efficiency, and safety of healthcare services delivery by adopting evidence-based regulatory standards for registration and licencing of healthcare establishments (HECs), health professionals and equipment, and enforcing minimum standards of safety by the HECs in the ICT.

It developed six standards for quality healthcare services along with a digital map of all healthcare facilities in the ICT, registered 1388 HECs out of a total of 1487, launched an online complaint management system (CMS), and implemented the online module for registration of the HECs.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2023

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