Nazir Ahmed Sajjidi
The Health care system in Balochistan is badly broken; it is high time to re-fix it. Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely absence of disease or infirmity. A healthy family has always chance to thrive and flourish while a sick and disease prone family is less likely to prosper. In the modern times, it is the responsibility of states to guarantee free and accessible healthcare for its citizens irrespective of discrimination because healthcare facility is considered one of the fundamental rights of citizens.
In 2000, at global summit of United Nation, almost all heads of states agreed to meet the health related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. However, no substantial progress towards achieving health related goals in Balochistan can be observed. Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) has increased manifold, Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) is persistent. Contraceptive Prevalence Rate could not have been increased due to ineffectiveness of Health workers, Malaria, Measles, Polio and other diseases are still endemic across Balochistan whereas, poverty and malnutrition are increasing due to the persistence of high ratio of MMR, IMR and declining ratio of CPR.
The major reason behind our failure to achieve indicators of MDGs is the pathetic state of our Healthcare facilities in urban and rural Balochistan. The quality and accessibility services of Preventive and curative Health centers have further deteriorated as the spineless and deeply corrupt political governments have miserably failed to introduce stark reforms within health care system which is in vogue in province. The Union politics among professional and non professional staff of health has left a deep and destructive impact on efficiency of health institutions. As a result, the entire structure of health revolves round a small clique. The first level health care facilities of Balochistan are totally dysfunctional and these health facilities are in short supplies of essential Medicines, state of art diagnostic equipments, ambulances, well-rounded professional staff and other modern needs.
The nationalist coalition government has compromised with bureaucratic and pressure group’s domination and could not introduce any reforms to improve health care system in most backward province of the country.
Diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria are responsible for 30% child deaths in Balochistan. Less than a quarter pregnant women get an antenatal checkup in Balochistan. Having no proper obstetric care in our Hospitals and first level healthcare centers, the percentage of Infant mortality rate has increased considerably in Balochistan. In addition, Primary Health care level of health care structure has virtually collapsed in Balochistan as we have the most corrupt, ineffective and inefficient PPHI as compare to the PPHI in other provinces. Unfortunately, since the very inception of PPHI back in 2007, it could not have dynamic managers. Owing to PPHI’s ineffective infrastructure in Balochistan, the full immunization coverage is below 16%. Substantial female population lacks reproductive health care and majority of them give birth without the supervision of a doctor, a nurse or a trained midwife. There is no robust community based mobilization mechanism to disseminate awareness regarding family planning, hygiene, nutrition, breastfeeding, and proper prenatal care among women. In rural Balochistan absenteeism of health staff is typical.
The supply of fake medicines in retail and other markets have become typical, there is no check on Non qualified doctors, Hakeems, quacks and un skilled paramedic staff to do their practices and have their clinics showing themselves as doctors. Several deaths occur annually due to the negligence of non skilled practitioners and due to fake drugs openly available in markets. This illegal business have become like an organized crime. Governments cannot dare to face the wrath of these organized criminals who run illegal business of illegal and sub-standard drugs.
The present healthcare system vogue in Balochistan, lacks functional immunization centers in urban and rural Balochistan, Mother and Child Health care services are merely exist in name, Every level of health care centers are without state of art diagnostic technologies, we have no planning to combat modern health challenges, there is no effective and strong accountability mechanism in our health care system, People centered approach policy is far away to be adopted here, Corruption is omnipresent within Health Department and that has sapped the effectiveness of Health Department in Balochistan. Having no policy and planning for disease prevention, several vaccine-preventable diseases are spreading like wildfire among them Malaria, Diarrhea, ARI, T.B, Hepatitis-B, Measles, Scabies, malnutrition are included.
The present government has yielded before powerful lobbies even we cannot eradicate polio virus from Balochistan. This crippling virus is still wild in every corner of province and paralyzing our future generation.
The cumulative effect of corrupt health system has given rise in decreasing life expectancy in Balochistan despite the fact that a huge part of annual budget is being allocated for health sector. The quality of services has deteriorated, access to quality health services for every citizen has shrunk, Immunization and curative coverage has declined further, there are no life saving health interventions on the part of Health Department, still obsolete equipments are used in Hospitals, untrained health staff further increasing the miseries of destitute public.
The conflict ridden Balochistan is falling in the quagmire of death, disease, agony, pain, falling ratio of life expectancy, malnutrition, abject poverty and Common people are groaning under corruption, bad governance, exploitation, tyranny while rulers are busy in multiplying their fortune and bureaucratic middle class have made nexus with politicians to have their share in loot and plunder. The bogy of death and disease is swallowing our naive children, downtrodden women and hapless senior citizens.
A forward looking, sincere and truly democratically elected leadership of Balochistan can introduce manifold reforms package within Health care System of Balochistan while purging health sector from corrupt and criminal lobbies and can give a all-encompassing Health policy to fix the system for a healthy and prosperous Balochistan.
Published in The Balochistan Point on September 20, 2015
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and The Balochistan Point not necessarily agrees with them.