Pakistan is a lower-middle-income country that spends about 3% of its GDP on health. With 96% of current health spending funded domestically, 54% is accounted for by out-of-pocket (OOP) payments. High reliance on OOP payments is the major obstacle in improving access to health services, coverage and equity.
Financial protection is key to UHC progress
Pakistan’s commitment to UHC is spelled out in the National Health Vision 2016–2025 and provincial health strategies. It focuses on population health coverage and financial protection to attain health- and poverty-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The policy target and priority are to ensure universal access to essential health services and financial protection to nearly half of the population in need by 2030.
In recent years, the government made notable progress towards UHC, including defining the UHC benefit package with clear purchasing arrangements.
Both federal and provincial governments have developed and introduced social health protection programmes in their constituencies to address high OOP payments. Public financial management measures have been initiated at the federal and provincial levels to align public finance with health financing functions.
Partnership collaboration makes a difference
P4H partners are committed to supporting government policy reforms to strengthen primary health care and accelerate progress towards UHC as part of the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well Being. From the government’s point of view, ownership and leadership are essential to translate global and regional agendas into country-specific concrete activities and results expected from collaboration with P4H.
Pakistan actively participated in the L4UHC programme cycle in Asia in October 2022 to strategize about social health protection interventions with involvement of civil society organizations, and private and public sector administrators. There is ongoing work to develop a national health financing strategy aligned with health and social protection reforms in the country.