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Suraksha Lalwani
The acceptance of a $258 million tranche by the World Bank will be a welcome boost to the National Health Support Plan. Pakistan’s healthcare system still has a long way to go before it can serve all of the country’s 220 million people. Although there are numerous private and public healthcare facilities in urban areas and major cities—the quality of care given varies greatly—rural areas frequently lack even the most basic facilities.Basic Healthcare Units, Lady Health Workers, and other subsidiary systems provide individuals with access to basic services in villages and remote areas. It’s encouraging to see that the World Bank’s financing will be used to expand universal health coverage and primary healthcare systems, which are both desperately needed. Our infant mortality rate of 57.99 deaths per 1,000 births places us as the 18th-worst country for newborn health. Many other significant health indicators show us to be in the same boat.This is why it is critical to make sure that healthcare expenditures are allocated wisely and efficiently. Many BHUs across the country are in bad condition; the government must begin by overhauling all existing facilities to ensure that they can at least provide basic healthcare services. Maternal and newborn care must always be included.Beyond basic medical care, we need to broaden our services. In order to achieve this, the government will need to provide incentives for doctors to migrate to rural areas in order to expand coverage. This is something that previous governments have looked into, but with little success.Furthermore, more facilities must be built to ensure that all individuals, regardless of where they live, have access to basic healthcare without having to travel to their provincial capital. This means that all districts will need to build their own hospitals, complete with diagnostic and laboratory equipment, in order to improve services. The challenge of improving national healthcare is not easy, especially given reports that the next budget may practically reduce our healthcare funding, bringing it down to Rs14 billion. Because of the potential harm to the health industry, it is hoped that the administration reconsiders. To keep an overburdened system going, we must be able to do more than merely meet expenditures. Both the federal and provincial governments must work together to disperse the limited resources for health care as widely as possible, while also searching for ways to increase spending wherever possible.

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