Healthcare in Balochistan
Basic healthcare facilities in the region are difficult to reach and almost non-existent for most. Whilst there are those who are lucky enough to reach the basic health units for treatment, lack of medicines and poor state of equipment truly hampers effective treatment.
The biggest challenge faced by Balochistan in the heath sector is that of primary and preventive health care especially in the context of mother and child. The arid lands, rough terrain and vast distances to the nearest health facilities is a major limiting factor where access to basic health services remains restricted to certain areas within each district.
Coverage of maternal, child health services including antenatal, neonatal, contraception, vaccination is considerably weak across the province. Only 26% of deliveries take place in health facilities, which is at least 10% lower than other provinces. In rural areas over 80% deliveries take place at home with a large percentage being assisted by untrained attendants.
Antenatal care is in a deprived state with over 31% of pregnant women in the province who have received Tetanus injection resulting in higher levels of child mortality. A study carried out by PDHS in 2006-07 portrayed the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) measured for Balochistan being the highest among the four provinces at 785 maternal deaths per 100,000 births compared to 227,314 and 275 per 100,000 births for Punjab, Sindh and KPK respectively. Considering the SDG goal for MMR is 140 per 100,000 live births, the region is far behind reaching this target.
Infectious diseases are an area of great concern. As per a report of the Independent Monitoring Board of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative February 2012, the greatest number of cases relate to Pakistan where it further increased by 38%. Balochistan (Killa Abdullah, Pishin and Quetta districts) were amongst the three main areas identified. In Balochistan the number of cases increased from 12 in 2010 to 73 in 2011 and the affected districts increased from 6 to 14.
Immunizations also dropped alarmingly in the region thus allowing the diseases to spread.
TB and hepatitis are major contributors to the infectious disease burden. While communicable diseases still account for dominant share of illness and mortality in the province, prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is rising rapidly.
The treatment success rates vary across districts. Hepatitis B and C levels are also major concerns however unsafe practices of injection usage and needle disposal are widely prevalent and vaccination levels are low at less than 7%.
HIV control needs a special focus in urban Balochistan.