Health Financing: A Key to Improving Healthcare Outcomes
Health financing refers to the mechanisms and strategies use to mobilize funds, allocate them efficiently, and use them effectively to improve health outcomes. Adequate financing is essential to ensure that everyone has access to quality healthcare services, regardless of their financial status. WHO guidelines for achieving the Universal Healthcare posit that every country must spent at least 5% of its GDP on healthcare. Unfortunately, many countries, including Pakistan, face significant challenges in financing their healthcare systems, leading to inadequate infrastructure, low-quality health services, and limited access to essential medicines.
Health Financing Core Functions
The below diagram presents the World Health Organization’s approach focused on the key functions regarding the health financing:
Health financing in Pakistan is a crucial issue that needs immediate attention. Despite several efforts by the government and non-governmental organizations, the country still lags behind in providing adequate health facilities and services to its citizens. According to the World Health Organization, Pakistan spends only about 3% of its GDP on health, which is significantly lower than the average spent by other developing countries.
The insufficient funding for health services has led to numerous challenges, such as inadequate infrastructure, low-quality health services, and a lack of skilled health professionals. Moreover, there is a significant disparity in health financing between the urban and rural areas. Rural areas are more prone to limited health services and low quality healthcare system.
One of the reasons for the reduced health financing in Pakistan is the limited tax collection, which leaves very little revenue to allocate for healthcare. The government needs to increase tax collection to fund health programs, such as the expansion of healthcare facilities, recruitment of qualified health professionals, and the provision of essential medicines.
Another reason for the low health financing in Pakistan is the inadequate allocation of funds towards health in the annual budget. In the past, the government has allocated meager funds for health, which has resulted in inadequate health facilities and limited access to essential medicines. The government needs to increase the budget allocation for health to provide quality healthcare services to its citizens.
Furthermore, the reliance on out-of-pocket payments by patients has resulted in a significant burden on low-income households, which often cannot afford the high cost of healthcare services. The government needs to implement health insurance schemes to cover the cost of healthcare for low-income households. This will not only improve access to healthcare but also reduce the financial burden on families.
The private sector plays a significant role in health financing in Pakistan, providing around 70-80% of healthcare services. However, the private sector services are often expensive and out of reach for the majority of the population. The government needs to regulate the private sector and ensure that the services provided are affordable and of good quality.
Moreover, the government needs to invest in preventive healthcare measures, such as awareness campaigns, vaccinations, and screening programs. Preventive healthcare measures not only improve health outcomes but also reduce the burden on the healthcare system by reducing the incidence of diseases.
In conclusion, health financing in Pakistan needs urgent attention from the government, donors, and non-governmental organizations. The government needs to increase tax collection and allocate more funds towards health in the annual budget. Health insurance schemes need to be implemented to reduce the financial burden on low-income households. The private sector needs to be regulated to ensure that the services provided are affordable and of good quality. Finally, the government needs to invest in preventive healthcare measures to improve health outcomes and reduce the burden on the healthcare system