Magazine article Economic Review

Health and Nutrition

Magazine article Economic Review

Health and Nutrition

Article excerpt

Good health is identified as a vital component of a good quality of life, and access to good health is recognized as a basic human need and a fundamental human right. A healthy population is more productive and efficient component of the society. In order to address enduring failures of human development, Millennium Development Goals has been drafted for reducing poverty, gender equality and among other advancing opportunities for health and education. Pakistan being a signatory of MDGs is fully aware of its commitments and particularly focusing of meeting three out of eight groups which relates to health sector such as reducing child mortality, in focusing maternal health and combating HIV/AlDs, TB, Malaria and other diseases. The National Health Policy of Pakistan 2009 in conformity with its commitment seeks to improve the health indicators of the country by delivering a set of basic health services for all. This will be done by improving health and using reliable health information to guide program effectiveness and design, and strategic use of emerging technologies. The health status of the population can be enhanced by achieving policy objectives of enhancing coverage and access of essential health services, measurable reduction in burden of diseases and protecting the poor and under privileged population subgroups against risk factors. Several programs are under way with major thrust to improve health care and training. Currently a total of 82 development schemes with PSDP allocation of Rs.16.9 billion for year 2010-11 are executing through ministry of health. Against this allocation, Rs.7.411 billion has already been released by the Planning Commission during July-January, 2011. Out of the released amount, Rs.6.3 billion has been utilized by the programmes/ projects up to January, 2011 which is 85% against the released amount. Despite financial constraints, the government has shown its resolve to continue investments in social sector ins order to improve Human Development Index.

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Health Indicators

Child and maternal health is perhaps the most significant index of social development in a country and is considered to reflect the level of nutrition, education and access to health services. Table-I below compares Pakistan's performance with that of other regional countries for the year 2010. Despite the fact that Pakistan has made progress during last couple of years towards achieving these health targets yet the pace has been sluggish. Pakistan still suffers from a high infant and maternal mortality, a double burden of diseases, and inadequate health care facilities with high population growth. Mortality, morbidity and slow progress of indicators in the maternal and child health are major concerns in the progress towards achieving Millennium Development Goals. Pakistan is lagging behind from other developing countries in these indicators.

However, life expectancy at birth is a good indicator of health and here Pakistan has done better. The average life expectancy at 67.2 years estimated for 2010 is well comparable with Bangladesh, Nepal and Thailand but the mortality rate for children under age five and infant mortality still remains high due to birth related problems, immunizable diseases, malnutrition and unhealthy dietary habits and low female literacy rate. Pakistan is working towards universal immunization, diseases prevention, health promotion and curative services. There are several programmes underway to improve health care and coverage.

Economy Survey 2010-2011
Table 11.1: Indicators

Country         Life       Infant     Mortality   Population
             Expectancy  Mortality  Rate under  Avg. Annual
               (2010)    Rate per   5 per 1000  (%) Growth
                           1000       (2010)      (2010)
                           (2010)

Pakistan        67.2       63.3         89          2.1
Bangladesh      66.9       50. … 
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