In critical condition

Published July 10, 2024

IT is time to sound the alarm. The Senate Standing Committee on Health provided some shocking figures on Monday — Pakistan has a shortage of approximately one million nurses, while some 30,000 to 40,000 doctors registered with the PMDC are not practising medicine. The fact that the strength of Pakistan’s nursing staff stood at about 100,000, despite its need for a tenfold increase, was also emphasised on International Nurses Day in May. Besides, in 2022, WHO’s Pakistan head had warned of a human resource crisis in the health sector, calling on the country to fortify its health workforce. The crisis has not crept up on us. As healthcare has never been a political commitment for successive governments, it is hardly central to policymaking. The lack of planned and sustained investment in the medical corps has resulted in a national emergency.

Without a doubt, Pakistan’s health workers have long felt abandoned by the state. And the time for an urgent prescription is now. To begin with, health personnel working in the public sector, regardless of their experience and specialisation, must have a reliable service structure to count on, aided by career planning and growth. The relevant government departments should proactively find the means to retain health professionals as well as expand their numbers in an overhauled system, especially if they want to prevent more medics leaving the country for greener pastures. What is also the need of the hour is amplified incentives for the nursing staff, such as schedules that suit their needs, health insurance and protection against infections. It is important to enhance their quality of life not only with higher salaries and benefits, but also with greater recognition of their all-important role in looking after patients round the clock. In addition, health departments must hold regular training programmes for updated certification to ensure a modern nursing workforce. For the most part, private nursing schools are substandard, making it critical for the authorities to monitor and upgrade these facilities so that the majority of nurses hired are graduates. In a moribund economy, this degree of scarcity in manpower means a public health crisis, and it is more than apparent that unless active measures are in place, the exodus will intensify. This pivotal sector requires systematic implementation of solutions and reforms to reverse the damage.

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Miles to go
Updated 14 Jul, 2024

Miles to go

Some reforms agreed with the Fund are going to seriously impact economic growth and fresh investments, at least in the short term.
Iddat ruling
14 Jul, 2024

Iddat ruling

IT was a needless, despicable spectacle which only ended up uniting both conservatives and progressives in ...
Cricket shake-up
14 Jul, 2024

Cricket shake-up

SOMEONE had to take the blame and bear the brunt of the fallout from Pakistan’s disastrous showing at the T20 ...
Injustice undone
Updated 13 Jul, 2024

Injustice undone

The SC verdict is a stunning reversal of fortunes for a party that was, both before and after general elections, being treated as a defunct entity.
Looming flour shortage
13 Jul, 2024

Looming flour shortage

FOR once, it is hard to argue against the reason that compelled flour mills to call a nationwide strike from...
Same old script
13 Jul, 2024

Same old script

WHEN it comes to the troubling issue of enforced disappearances/ missing persons — either Baloch or belonging to...