Health Governance

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The debilitating dynamics unleashed during pandemic unraveled most brutal truths of global and regional governance. It not only exposed the inefficiency of global health architecture but also exposed the medical disparities of national health orders. Being post-colonial state, investments in human capital was never top priority of successive governments. In terms of fairness, responsiveness and adequacy, indigenous health system has always been in shambles. The hedonistic ruling elite were indifferent to revolutionize health system owing to their propensity for medical checkups abroad. The underinvested, inefficient and inaccessible health apparatus concomitant with burgeoning population was blatantly in tatters when pandemic hit masses rushed to hospitals. The article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services.”

Access to indiscriminate healthcare, regardless of class, creed, gender, sexual orientation or religion is fundamental human right. The provision oxygen cylinders and specific medications is inalienable right of every Pakistan and any intransigence in this regard is tantamount to dehumanization of masses. According to the UNDP’s 2010 report, Pakistan is facing colossal challenges vis-à-vis human development including poverty, poor health facilities, illiteracy and population explosion. One reason could be that Pakistan’s spending on health is far less than the WHO’s recommended figure of US$ 34 for low and middle income countries. An average Pakistani spends around US$ 17 per year on health in Pakistan; out of which US$ 13 is spent on private medical facilities. The silver lining amid these bleak dynamics is that Pakistan can substantially improve its human development trajectory by putting its health system in order. For vigorous health governance, Pakistan needs to address financial barriers, geographical inaccessibility, gender bias, inequality, ghost health workers, urban-rural divide and unfair access to medicines. Human capital is instrument of power and our policy makers must wake up to this reality.

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