THE PAKISTAN DEVELOPMENT REVIEW
The Disease Pattern and Utilisation of Health Care Services in Pakistan
Health is an important aspect of human life. In general terms, better health status of individuals reflects reduced illnesses, low level of morbidity, and less burden of disease in a given population. It is widely recognised that improved health not only lowers mortality, morbidity and level of fertility, but also contributes to increased productivity and regular school attendance of children as a result of fewer work days lost due to illness, which in turn have implications for economic and social well-being of the population at large. Hence investing in health is vital for promoting human resource development and economic growth in a country [World Bank (1993)]. A view of Pakistan’s health profile indicates that the sector has expanded considerably in terms of physical infrastructure and its manpower in both the public and private sector. This has contributed to some improvement in selected health status indicators over the years. However, the public health care delivery system has been inadequate in meeting the needs of the fast growing population and in filtering down its benefits to the gross-root level. As such, Pakistan still has one of the highest rates of infant and child mortality, total fertility and maternal mortality when compared with many other countries in the Asian region [UNDP (2000)]. Due to low priority given to social sector development in the past and low budgetary allocations made to the health sector, the evidence shows that mortality and morbidity indices have not reduced to the desired level and large gaps remain in the quality of care indicators, especially in rural areas [Federal Bureau of Statistics (2000)].