Pakistan elections: health on agenda

Pakistani politicians woo voters with proposals for improvements in country’s healthcare system ahead of polling on Saturday

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

Pakistan is conducting its 14th parliamentary elections this Saturday. In a country fraught with tremendous political and social instability and terrorism, healthcare has so far been a low priority. Pakistan spent just 0.27 per cent of its GDP on healthcare for its 180 million people in 2011-12. The country ranks fifth among high burden tuberculosis countries. About 1.6 million cases of malaria occur annually.

Keeping these facts in view, political parties in Pakistan have made it a point to emphasise health issues in their manifestos. While the implementation of some of their ideas, such as insurance that will provide healthcare to all, seem unlikely to materialise, this has not deterred the jousting parties from wooing prospective voters with promises of better healthcare as part of their election agendas.

A look at the different political parties and their stand on healthcare in Pakistan


  • PML(N) will aim at a three-fold increase in the overall expenditure on health to at least 2 per cent of GDP by 2018, as recommended by the United Nations. High priority will be accorded to a preventive health strategy to minimise costs of healthcare

  • The basic aim of the health programme will be to achieve within 5 years 100 per cent vaccination of children, 50 per cent reduction in maternal and infant mortality and at least 10 per cent reduction in the rate of population growth

  • Coverage of Rs 1,50,000 per annum would be provided for each covered family for meeting indoor treatment, inclusive of surgeries

  • Participating hospitals shall receive payments from insurance companies. Premiums to insurance companies shall be paid by the provincial government. The programme shall be managed by provincial government


  • Increase spending from 0.86 percent of GDP to 2.6 percent of GDP in five years. A six-fold increase in absolute terms

  • Initiate a mega population control project to reduce population growth. Population planning will be made part of the health department and integrated at the district level

  • PTI will ensure free primary health care system for the poor

  • Increasing existing coverage by the public sector by 100 per cent


  • Targeting primary healthcare with the focus on environmental concerns and public healthcare, especially water and sanitation

  • Ensuring full coverage of EPI (extended program of immunisation). MQM pledges to eradicate polio through a countrywide sustainable anti polio vaccination drive by encouraging citizens’ participation

  • Increase public expenditure on health from 0.6 per cent to 5 per cent of GDP during next five years

  • Introduction of low cost and subsidised health insurance schemes by the government for all citizens. Effective utilization of Zakat fund in health sector


  • ANP promises to ensure improved access and quality of health services for all citizens. In this respect various options including insurance schemes, regulation and/or support to the private health sector shall be considered

  • Allocate at least 6 per cent of the GDP to health

  • Party will seek public and private sector partnership, particularly for primary health care

  • Institute special healthcare insurance packages and incentives for senior citizens


  • Propose an increase in state spending on health to 5 per cent of consolidated government spending by the end of term

  • Take measures to stem rapid population growth and bring the population growth rate down to 1.6 per cent

  • Introduce a comprehensive national health insurance programme for the underprivileged. Essential health service packages will be developed by the provinces with certain minimum standards of service delivery




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