Health promises: comparative analysis of political manifestos
Promises are always the upfront of what Political Parties’ Manifestos are representing. The promises included Rejuvenate the economy, Metro Bus Service in Karachi, separate transport system for Women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and many more. After the election 2013, Results gave us three structured Political Parties governing the three different provinces of the country, PMLN in Punjab, PPPP in Sindh and PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Now it’s been almost five years, these parties are ruling in the respective provinces but we haven’t seen Metro Bus Service in Karachi and the largest city of the country choked out every day due to traffic jam. We also haven’t seen any separate transport system for females in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the province still hasn’t improved much number in female enrolment in Educational Institutes keeping in mind the cultural barriers for females in the province.
Similarly, we are yet to observe the sustainability in economy and country suffering with Trade deficit which was closed at a record $32.4 billion of last fiscal year and has swelled to $18 billion in first six months of current fiscal year. In election year 2013, all the political parties made a lot of promises to the people of country. Every election appears to have one thing in common-promises by major political parties in the form of their election manifestoes.
In Pakistan, one of the most significant components of human resource formation is health. It is important to understand that access to quality health services are recognized as basic right to each and every individual. However, the level of insight into health related matters varies considerably across parties.
The PTI Pakistan political Party was looking forward to increase the budget for health from 0.86 percent of GDP to 2.86 percent of GDP. PPP-P has proposed to increase spending on health to five percent of consolidated government spending by the end of next term. They put forward better governance and transparent utilization of budget by the provinces. Similar to the other two parties, PML-N was also interested in preventive health strategy to reduce costs of healthcare. According to PML-N manifesto, quite extensive health insurance plan has been described with resolve to implement it.
The PTI has proposed a policy of strengthening primary health care through uplifting the basic health units with staff, doctors, and medicines in every district. They focused on increasing the current public healthcare coverage by 100 percent. They ensure that the availability of clean drinking water. Also, Health MDGs will be achieved. The PPP-P has suggested quite a few programs in the health sector, including mother-child nutrition programme, disease prevention program, health insurance programme, etc.
Despite numerous promises, a single one hasn’t been made to address the painfully slow system of health financing in this country
They proposed to increase coverage of LHW services to 100 percent of rural areas and to urban slums. They planned to cut maternal and child mortality rates by 60 percent. According to PML-N manifesto, provision of clean drinking water will be high priority. Each district will have District Healthcare Authority to manage the health system under (BoG) consists of professionals. They proposed that each district will have one hospital with entire medical facilities and specialists. In addition, BHUs will be strengthened and mobile medical units are promised to cover remote areas which contain basic health care facilities.
It is worth noting that the manifesto of PTI focuses on providing free primary health care for the poor. They initiate National programmes on the prevention of blindness, genetic disorders, mental illnesses, and oro-dental diseases. The PPP-P wanted to achieve childhood immunisation and specifically mentioned polio eradication. They strived for establishing special medical care facilities including trauma centres at the local level. The PML-N mentioned that medical colleges and teaching hospital will also become completely autonomous bodies managed by their respective BoG. Another concern was the introduction of National Health Insurance scheme and smart cards for availing health facilities.
According to PTI manifesto, all DHQ/THQ hospitals to be modernised and created jobs in health care. The PPP-P desired to take measures to stem rapid population growth and bring the population growth down to 1.6 percent. They devised plans to tackle high level of communicable diseases. The party also concerned about promoting degree courses in nursing in private and public sector and increasing educational facilities for medical personnel. But PML-N hasn’t made any other commitments regarding health sector.
During the Election Year 2013 out of these above mentioned parties only PML-N made a promise regarding health. Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, chairperson of the party during his speech in Haripur KP on 8th of May, 2013 promised to build a Medical College and University in Abbottabad. Leaders of other two parties PPPP and PTI have not mention anything regarding health during their speeches in 2013.
Although these promises look very eye-catching and were good enough to turn the number of voters on election-day but are these promises and commitments were strong enough to deal with the micro level issues of health sector? A political manifesto should always be citizen centric and this comparison of political manifestos shows the picture other way around.
Despite these numbers of promises, there is not a single promise to address the slow system of health financing. Budget allocation for health sector is always a very timely matter but there are many hick ups during Budget Releases at various points. Among above mention four political parties, there is not a single party who focused on resolving the systematic issues of Health sector.
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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.