The words of the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar about the poor condition or lack of adequate medical facilities available in country’s hospitals do not present an exaggerated picture. Sadly, the health sector of the country is broken. Unfortunately, successive governments in Pakistan had made no or little sustainable efforts in erecting a structure of social services in general and that of health and education in particular. The lack of attention to prioritising health has only contributed to the deterioration of national health and medical facilities.

While many may say that the CJP has exceeds his limits defined under the separation of power principle, he can be exonerated for the grave situation of hospitals compels the august CJP to speak his mind on the poor infrastructure of the hospitals. Unfortunately, in the twenty-first century when technology is revolutionising the medical field, Pakistani hospitals lack enough beds for patients. Even in providing basic facilities at hospitals Pakistan lags behind the rest of the world, let alone thinking of Pakistan making technological advancement in medicine.

The social services sector is one sector where the government needs not to give a hearing ear to the forces of the market nor the appeal of market equilibrium nor the demands of neo-liberalism. For doing so will mean that the government is giving preference to Social Darwinism over people’s lives. Social Darwinism taking precedence over people’s lives will make people think of the state as an entity that only protects rich and guards their interests when the vulnerable sections of the society need the state’s protection the most.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the ruling party, firmly believes in the importance of national health. Therefore, it has decided to introduce “Sehat Cards” (health cards) across the country so that the most vulnerable sections of society can get access to cheap health facilities. Hopefully, the “Sehat Cards” will provide relief to poor as these cards will lessen the burden of costly treatment of the diseases like cancer and heart problems. The government has, indeed, taken a laudable step.

However, introducing health cards cover one aspect of the problem: the financial aspect. The other element that needs state intervention is the capacity of the hospitals. The latter issue if left unaddressed will make the former intervention meaningless. Therefore, the state needs to devise a multi-pronged strategy to erect a health sector to the envy of many countries. If Cuba can sustain a world-class health system despite all kinds of economic sanctions, what is stopping Pakistan?