Health Policies and Human Capital: The Case of Pakistan (Invited Lecture)

Publication Year : 1986

All countries of the world confront complex dilemmas when dealing with their respective health sectors. In the industrialized democracies a seemingly insatiable demand for health care is outstripping supply, despite a relentless increase in the latter’s share of national budgets and family incomes. Yet, there is little corresponding rise in general health indices, or even in human happiness about the quality of medical services. The inability of health services to deliver greater health for more money has ironically not blunted the public’s appetite for them; rather, it has perversely increased it. Some of the evident reasons for this paradox are the following: (a) affluent humanity is less prepared than ever before to suffer minor ailments without drugs or other medical help; (b) demand for health care has been further stimulated by both new treatments for curable diseases and expanded coverage throughout the poorer levels of society; (c) new cures for old diseases come with ever higher price tags for their sophisticated technology so that much additional spending still saves few lives; and (d) the elderly, whose relative numbers in society are growing, require more routine medical care than the young. Clearly, health services in the developed North are victims of their own successes.

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