After years of hoping for a consolidated policy for healthcare, the moment has arrived when all the federal and provincial governments have finally agreed on a common National Health Vision (NHV) for the entire country. This national policy has been a long time coming and that too a well thought out one, which is recognised by representatives of all provinces and federating units. The NHV will primarily focus on improving universal access to essential health services. It also hopes to bring the country’s provincial and federal health policy frameworks in line with international health treaties to which Pakistan is a signatory.

The policy was developed after participation of stakeholders from across the country, which gives hope that it is likely to bring a positive development. The focus has been divided along eight thematic areas in the health sector, consisting of six building blocks that the government will focus on, to ensure that the provision of health services becomes more universal across the country. It also focuses on providing a monitoring and evaluation mechanism to make sure that the progress on the plan is presented to the parliament on an annual basis. It is hoped that action is visible by the governing structures to ensure healthcare delivery in line with this policy.

The healthcare system in Pakistan is at the cusp of complete collapse, whereby there are 5,499 dispensaries, 5,438 basic health units, 669 rural health centres, 671 mother and child health centres, and 334 tuberculosis centres in the country, catering to a population of 190 million. The government must focus on developing and training its human resource. Too often policies are made and do not see the light of day on the ground. This must not happen to the NHV as the stakes are simply too high. The whole system requires an upheaval and a sound policy to direct that action is more than necessary.