According to the ‘Ranking Web of World Hospitals’, our healthcare system paints a dismal picture. Only four government-run hospitals made it in the top 20 in the country, while the best public sector hospital in Pakistan ranks 5,911 in the world. This speaks volumes for the quality of the government run healthcare system that the average citizen has access to, and that too with great difficulty. Cidp International Foundation has been declared the best hospital in the country, and even that ranks 1,842 in the world ranking. The reason for this utter neglect on the government’s part to provide quality healthcare is the heavy reliance on the booming private healthcare industry in Pakistan that forces 78% of the population to cover healthcare expenses on their own.

It is shameful that the discourse around health policy receives little to no attention especially in forums where it matters most. The health crisis that has unfolded in Thar and the continuity of polio in the country, as well as the ever-increasing number of hepatitis patients does not prompt the government to take real action to ease the woes of the Pakistani people. Currently only 0.9pc of the GDP is spent on health. This is one of the lowest amount of finances allocated to this important public sector by any country in the world.

The health ministry recently announced a plan to issue health cards to underprivileged Pakistanis as an answer to “reform” healthcare within the country. The prime minister's card, which will be available to all those who earn less than Rs200 daily, will allocate Rs50,000 to an individual for the treatment of common illnesses such as flu, cough and hepatitis. The card system is not a real attempt at reformation. It is merely a band aid slapped on to a widening crack that threatens to break the public healthcare system altogether, rendering it useless and obsolete.

The real plague to Pakistan's healthcare system is the shortage of trained doctors and sub-standard facilities that are not maintained even if they are provided. Government-run facilities are not staffed adequately to handle the large patient volume they are exposed to on a daily basis. Pakistan still ranks poorly in terms of maternal and infant mortality, 170 per 100,000 live births, and 66 per 1,000 births respectively. The health care sector in Pakistan is known as one of the country’s most corrupt and unmaintained sectors according to surveys carried out by Transparency International. It also lacks a national health insurance system-making healthcare inaccessible to the 60% living below the poverty line. This is enough cause for total upheaval and reformation of the current system and it should be made a top priority of the government.