Pakistan ranks 154th among 195 countries in terms of quality and accessibility of healthcare, behind its South Asian counterparts Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka, according to a Lancet study.
The study, carried out by the leading medical journal The Lancet, mentioned that Pakistan has seen improvement in healthcare access and quality since 1990, with its HAQ index increasing from 26.8 in 1990 to 37.6 in 2016.
But despite the gains, Pakistan continues to lag behind India, which ranks 145th, China (48), Sri Lanka (71), Bangladesh (133) and Bhutan (134). Afghanistan, ranked 191st, fares far worse.
According to the study, Pakistan performed poorly in tackling cases of tuberculosis, diarrhoeal diseases, neonatal diseases, uterine cancer, leukemia, among others.
The five countries with the highest levels of healthcare access and quality (in 2016) were Iceland (97.1 points), Norway (96.6), the Netherlands (96.1), Luxembourg (96.0), and Finland and Australia (each with 95.9).
The countries with the lowest scores were the Central African Republic (18.6), Somalia (19.0), Guinea-Bissau (23.4), Chad (25.4), and Afghanistan (25.9).
The study pointed out that subnational inequalities were particularly pronounced in countries such as China and India, although high-income countries, including England and the US, also saw considerable local gaps in performance.
“These results emphasise the urgent need to improve both access to and quality of healthcare across service areas and for all populations; otherwise, health systems could face widening gaps between the health services they provide and the disease burden experienced by local communities,” it stated.
The study used an index to measure the quality and accessibility of healthcare, based on 32 causes of death which should be preventable with effective medical care.
In 2016, the global average healthcare access and quality score was 54.4, increasing from 42.4 points in 2000.
Each of the 195 countries and territories assessed were given a score between 0-100.