Social Protection Resource Centre

Dr. Safdar’s Talk at the 26th SDC in the Session on Envisioning Universal Health Coverage in Pakistan

Dr. Safdar Sohail ED SPRC, speaking at the 26TH Sustainable Development Conference hosted by the SDPI, highlighted the current challenges in our healthcare system and pointed out various intricate problems and areas that need improvement.

Sharing his expert remarks in the session on “Envisioning Universal Health Coverage in Pakistan”, he stressed upon the need for careful consideration in liberalizing services, especially in healthcare sector. He further explained this by analyzing the healthcare sector as a services sector within the context of liberalization.

Dr. Safdar Sohail discussed a study on the regional comparison of the liberalization of health services in South Asia. While particularly focusing on India and Pakistan, he elaborated on the pricing and regulatory aspect of the healthcare services in South Asia. Dr. Safdar Sohail uncovered alarming profit margins in the health sector, particularly in Pakistan, and underscored the importance of a robust regulatory framework. Dr. Safdar Sohail further explained the distinctive nature of our problems in the localized context and recommended comparison with other countries for finding solutions.

Linking the critical issue of social protection with universal healthcare, Dr. Safdar Sohail criticized the lack of attention to work on the social protection system. He criticized the audacity of labeling income transfers as social protection, when they fall short in providing for vulnerable households. Dr. Safdar Sohail underlined the serious implications of health and wellbeing on the labor market, as well as disability-adjusted life years, and healthy life expectancy. He remarked that ignorance of these issues of citizen welfare indicate to a lack of patriotism and concern for the people.

Concluding with impactful insights, Dr. Safdar Sohail drew attention to the conceptual understanding of health, poverty, and trust in the society. Critically commenting on this issue he highlighted the poor foundation of these concepts at societal level. He warned against the self-reform capacity and loss due to the advancement in adoption of the neoliberal model. He highlighted lack of interest in broader economic development among the sectoral capitalist class.

Dr. Safdar Sohail proposed five key recommendations, including merging public health with Employee Social Security, activating laws like the Consumer Protection Act, changing medical school syllabus, and breaking the cycle of poverty and ill health.

In summary, Dr. Safdar Sohail’s presentation provided a comprehensive analysis of the healthcare challenges, urging a holistic approach to reform and emphasizing the need for a visionary and interconnected healthcare system.