Fitch Solutions recently published a report on how the recent healthcare reforms in Pakistan will boost the market outlook.
The report stated that the re-launched national health insurance scheme will be broadly positive for Pakistan’s healthcare sector, with further reform momentum favorable for drugmaker opportunities.
According to Fitch, The PTI government outlined a host of reforms for advancing public health in the country in its election manifesto in 2018. Prime Minister Imran Khan aims to ensure universal healthcare coverage and enhance the focus on primary healthcare while upgrading secondary & tertiary healthcare facilities.
The PM re-launched the first phase of the health insurance scheme in February 2019 – which had been introduced by the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government as Prime Minister National Health Programme (PMNHP) in 2015 – under the new title of Sehat Insaf Card.
Under the programme, vulnerable families can benefit from free treatment up to PKR 720,000 (USD 5,151) annually in 150 government and private hospitals. A wide range of both medical and surgical in-patient services are included in the scheme, including surgeries, stunts, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, dialysis, maternity, and other medical and surgical services.
Moreover, the Sehat Insaf Program will benefit approximately 15 million people currently living below the poverty line. It is expected that upon completion of the programme, a total of 14 million families will be enrolled in the scheme.
Furthermore, reforms to ensure the availability of diagnostic facilities, and preventive and curative treatment for communicable diseases such as hepatitis, tuberculosis, and HIV were also highlighted in PTI’s manifesto.
Reforms in Pakistan’s pharmaceutical and health sector are likely to be implemented over a longer timeframe, supporting the sector on its growth trajectory. However, opportunities for multinational drugmakers will continue to be marred by underlying issues within the healthcare systems stated the report.
Fitch suggests that outlook for multinational pharmaceutical firms in Pakistan remains bleak. Despite the increasing political will in Pakistan to develop the healthcare sector, given the government’s poor track record of implementing planned healthcare sector reforms, there is a possibility that the implementation of such improvements will be delayed.
It also stated that there are numerous weaknesses which will affect the sector’s development, including poor governance, lack of access and unequal resources, poor health information management systems, corruption in the health system, a lack of monitoring in health policy and health planning, and a lack of trained staff.
Fitch will continue to monitor market developments that are likely to impact the healthcare and pharmaceuticals sectors.
Nevertheless, the report further suggests that the rising burden of chronic disease, aging population and healthcare reforms will continue to contribute to pharmaceutical market’s growth.