Pakistan, as we all know is a developing country and we are currently going through lots of challenges and issues. These issues vary from terrorism, energy crisis and poverty to poorly developed education and health systems.
Health, which is the basic human right, has unfortunately not been our priority. This statement is supported by the fact that according to the World Health Organization 2013 statistics, the health system of our country is currently ranked as 122 out of 190 countries. This is a very alarming figure especially considering the fact that one of our neighboring countries Iran is ranked as 93 in the same list. This particular figure definitely draws our attention towards issues in the health sector which we are currently facing.
Firstly, we need to understand what is meant by health system. The health system does not only include hospitals and clinicians. It rather involves anything and everything which directly or indirectly affects the health of populations. The health system is composed of hospitals, environment, urban planning, food, nutrition and numerous other sectors which are directly or indirectly involved in determining the health of populations. What this means is the fact that by merely building new hospitals and producing more clinicians, we cannot make our health systems better. There has to be a multi-sectoral approach which needs to involve all the components of the health system.
The next and the most important factor to consider is that we need to reshape our current health system model. If we want to improve the health status of our population, we have to base our health system on the preventive approach rather than the curative approach, that is, we need to promote public health. The time has now come where we must come out of the downstream (clinician) approach and move towards upstream (public health) approach. This is the only way by which we can survive and can make the health status of our population better. We should reconsider and amend our current health policy and we will have to develop it on the model of public health. This is the need of the time and if we want to survive and compete with the world, we must follow the public health model instead of the clinician’s model.
At present, there are only a handful of institutes all across the country which offer professional studies in the field of preventive medicine. In order to produce skilled public health specialists, we need to have many academic institutes whose focus is solely on preventive medicine. The government should also support such institutes and provide appropriate funding to them, so that they can eventually become stable and sustainable. Thus the only way to make our health sector prosper is by working on public health. If this is not done on a priority basis and we are not able to shift our focus from clinicians model to public health model, it is feared that we will lag far behind as far as the health sector is concerned.