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August 14, 2020

Fitch Solutions sees opportunities for private healthcare to grow

Business

August 14, 2020

KARACHI: Pakistan’s healthcare system embraces opportunities for private sector to fill the gap left because of underperformance of the public institutions, Fitch Solutions said.

“The underperformance of the public sector healthcare system in Pakistan has created a room for private sector to grow, which has become popular in health service delivery,” Fitch Solutions said in a latest report. “Pressures on public health institutions from a rapidly growing population have allowed the private sector to service the gap created by an ever-increasing demand and limited public health facilities. Private expenditure on healthcare accounted for 70.2 percent of total health spending in 2019, having risen in relation to the previous year.”

However, Fitch Solutions warned that opportunities for multinational drugmakers would be marred by underlying issues within the healthcare system. A number of foreign pharmaceutical companies are mulling exit from Pakistan due to concerns on government policies.

“Despite the increasing political will in Pakistan to develop the healthcare sector, given the government's poor track record of implementing planned healthcare sector reforms, there is a possibility that the implementation of such improvements will be delayed,” said Fitch Solutions. “There are numerous weaknesses which will affect the sector's development, including poor governance, lack of access and unequal resources, poor health information management systems, corruption in the health system, a lack of monitoring in health policy and health planning, and a lack of trained staff.”

Fitch Solutions said Pakistan’s healthcare system remains significantly underfunded, restricting the provision of high-quality care, and therefore limiting the opportunity for high-value medicine sales. Healthcare standards in Pakistan remain poor by global standards, with 78 percent of the population paying for healthcare expenditure out-of-pocket. Pakistan ranked 154th among 195 countries in terms of quality and accessibility of healthcare, behind its South Asian counterparts Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka, according to a Lancet study.

Pakistan has one of the lowest densities of health workers in the region and globally, with doctor to patient ratio of 1:1300, doctor to nurse ratio is 1:2.7. With such low levels of staffing, Pakistan is listed as one of 57 countries with a critical health workforce deficiency.

“The impact of these weaknesses has been perpetuated by the Covid-19 crisis, which reinforces the need to ensure effective crisis management and fast-track progress toward universal healthcare,” Fitch Solutions said.

Pakistan is making several improvements in its healthcare delivery system and has established several reforms. Efforts are being made to improve the healthcare system in Pakistan, but will take time to deliver gains. Like many of its neighbouring emerging Asian markets, Pakistan is attempting to achieve universal healthcare access to quality essential health services, with a particular focus on vulnerable groups.

“Pakistan Vision 2025 reflects the government's commitment to investing in the social sector including health as a top priority and the National Health Vision (NHV) 2025 provides a single, shared vision for universal health care, especially for women and children in the country. One of the key actions under the NHV is the formulation of the Pakistan Human Resources for Health Vision 2018-2030 to address the country’s health workforce challenges.”