THE PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is trying to overcome the difficulties posed by many doctors and other medical professionals who are otherwise vital to the public healthcare system in the province. There are several concerns regarding all the work that needs to be done in order to improve the system; however, there is certainly some good news as well. That most powerful incentive — money — seems to be working. A number of doctors have opted for carrying out their professional duties in their home districts away from the appeal of the big city. The arrangement offered by the provincial government pays the doctors working in the rural areas much more handsomely than what they would have earned while competing with their colleagues who have private practices in addition to their government jobs in the larger towns. It is not easy to end the allure of the combination of private and public practice, and that is why it will take some time before everyone gets the confidence to truly hail the KP experiment which covers nurses as well. The situation has to be monitored closely to see not only how big the initiative is in size and outreach. There will also have to be special emphasis on the quality of care being provided deep in the countryside where people are often forced to seek medical treatment in far-off cities.
KP which is under the microscope as a ‘PTI province’ could well provide an example of a job well done — at least one well attempted — in this case. However, at the same time, it is very much an example of how many resources are needed to make some basic change in the way Pakistanis all across the country are being treated in hospitals and clinics. This brings home the old point about getting one’s priorities right. Healthcare is always in need of cash injections. The right allocation and the right focus in the health sector can see the benefits being transferred to the people directly and quickly.
Published in Dawn January 11th, 2017