Having a quality healthcare system that caters to each of its citizens’ needs is every country’s goal. However, having such a system is easier said than done. Several ingredients go into the making of an adequate healthcare system. One element that is perhaps the most crucial factor is striking the right balance between public and private healthcare provision. Some countries opt to have only one of the two, and others try to find a middle ground. Having chosen the latter route, Pakistan has struggled to establish stability in both the public and private sectors of its healthcare system.
The public sector in Pakistan serves 30 percent of the population and has consistently underperformed concerning the private sector. The main problem faced by the public sector has been a chronic lack of funding. While the services provided by these institutions are free, they are often subpar and are ill-equipped to handle most ailments. This problem is less visible in developed cities such as Lahore and Karachi but are highly apparent in rural areas. The underfunding issues have been a crippling burden on this sector. A lack of funds has meant that these hospitals cannot purchase appropriate equipment or even hire quality healthcare professionals. Another unfortunate side effect of the lack of funding has been the unavailability of pharmaceutical aid in rural areas. Often rural inhabitants are forced to travel to urban areas to get the medicine they need. The medicine’s cost aside, the traveling expenses automatically ensures that the family is as financially strained as it can be. The private sector, while demonstrably better, has its share of problems.
The private healthcare sector serves the remaining 70 percent of Pakistan’s. Being run by private entities, these hospitals perform markedly better than their public counterparts. The downside to this improved healthcare is that it is inaccessible to any patient belonging to a low-income category. This is because the private healthcare sector in Pakistan is highly unregulated, which essentially means that private healthcare institutions have been free to charge whatever they deem conducive to profits. The prices vary within the private sector to such a degree that the difference between the maximum and minimum amount of a cataract operation can be as high as Rs 100000 . Similarly, a simple consultatory visit to the doctor can cost between Rs 2000 and Rs 6000.
In addition to this, we expect that if a hospital is charging unusually high prices, it provides a standard of healthcare that is unmatched elsewhere, but often that is not the case in Pakistan. Many hospitals charge whatever they deem appropriate and take no care to ensure that the service quality is in tune with the prices charged.
Despite the prevalence of poor private healthcare in Pakistan, many hospitals are more reasonable towards their patients. One such example is that of the National Hospital in Lahore.
The National Hospital in Lahore offers state of the art medical services to its patients. These services are provided across a variety of fields such as cardiology, ENT, Oncology, etc. As mentioned previously, many private institutions are guilty of charging high prices, which are ill-represented by the quality of service. National hospital, on the other hand, has fared considerably better in this regard. Research studies conducted on Pakistan’s healthcare system have often ranked National hospital among those institutions offering quality private healthcare.
Moreover, National has always strived to charge their patients an amount that is proportional to the services they offer, a bare minimum requirement that many hospitals in Pakistan have failed to meet. National additional recognizes that many of its financially challenged patients are unable to afford their healthcare which is why the hospital offers a variety of discounts to these customers.
Additionally, the hospital also runs a high-quality general ward that operates at a fraction of the cost. This ward has consistently served patients who have been unable to pay for their healthcare. These patient friendly services coupled with the quality of healthcare offered make National Hospital one of the clear winners as far as private healthcare providers are concerned.