The Country Position Paper on Universal Health Coverage highlights the complexities and challenges within Pakistan’s healthcare system. Pakistan’s healthcare system is structured as a dual entity, with both public and private sectors sharing responsibilities for healthcare delivery. However, the system faces significant hurdles, including rapid population growth, uneven distribution of healthcare professionals, inadequate funding, and limited access to quality healthcare services. Rural areas, in particular, suffer from inadequate facilities, unhygienic conditions, and a lack of essential resources.

Download the Country Position Paper on Universal Health Coverage Pakistan (2023) here.

In terms of progress, Pakistan has made efforts to enhance its healthcare infrastructure, with a focus on primary, secondary, and tertiary care levels. Despite these improvements, the healthcare system faces challenges stemming from the population’s high demand for services, leading to the growth of the private healthcare sector. Pakistan’s health ranking remains a concern, with a Lancet Study placing it at 154th out of 195 countries in terms of healthcare quality and accessibility. This is partly attributed to low budget allocation to the health sector due to economic challenges and a rapidly growing population.

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is recognized as a pivotal goal for Pakistan, with the potential to address these challenges. UHC aligns with various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by reducing disparities in healthcare access, eliminating poverty, promoting gender equality, enhancing productivity, and fostering sustainable communities.

Despite Pakistan’s extensive healthcare challenges, more than half of the population lacks access to basic healthcare services. This issue is exacerbated in rural areas, among marginalized communities, conflict- affected regions, and minority groups. Maternal and child mortality rates remain high, and breast cancer incidence is alarming, largely due to a lack of awareness and limited access to diagnostic facilities. People with Disabilities (PWDs) face exclusion and neglect, further hindering their access to healthcare services. The immunization process has improved but is still insufficient to prevent preventable diseases.

Pakistan has taken steps to advance UHC through policy frameworks at both provincial and national levels, aiming to provide equitable access to essential healthcare services. These initiatives include the National Health Vision 2016-2025, Pakistan Vision 2025, Health Sector Strategy 2015-2025, National Health Policy 2017, and provincial strategies. Health insurance policies and partnerships with non- governmental organizations (NGOs) are also being explored.

To overcome these challenges and achieve UHC, Pakistan must increase budget allocation for healthcare, expand access to remote and rural areas, establish monitoring and evaluation systems, strengthen primary healthcare, and implement comprehensive health insurance. Disease prevention, public awareness campaigns, and investment in medical education and research are also essential. Specialized healthcare centers for marginalized groups, improved maternal and child care, sexual and reproductive healthcare, and nutrition-sensitive programs are vital components of the UHC strategy.

In conclusion, Universal Health Coverage offers a transformative opportunity for Pakistan’s healthcare system, fostering socio-economic development and improving the well-being of its citizens. Collaboration with international partners and collective efforts are essential to achieving UHC’s vision of accessible, affordable, and quality healthcare services for all, regardless of their background or location.