Pakistan economy’s rise in recent times has helped the country attain a respectable position in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ranking above neighboring country India.
On Thursday, a report on the baseline analysis from the Global Burden of Diseases Study 2015 was released in the United Nations General Assembly. It compared 33 health indicators in SDGs of the 188 countries. An index score is evaluated for each country based on the health indicators, from zero to 100.
Pakistan has a score of 38, same as Bangladesh and Mauritania, ranking it 149th in the list. India sits five position ahead of Pakistan in 143rd position due to challenges including morality rates, malaria, hygiene and air pollution.
Founding Director of the Aga Khan University’s Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health and co-author of the study, Professor Zulfiqar Bhutto said, “These analyses are critically important for Pakistan as they can help set a baseline based on recent performance and also set a trajectory for achieving the health and health-related SDGs.”
Since each indicator was measured separately, Pakistan performed well in categories such as expanded health coverage, greater access to family planning, and fewer deaths of newborns and children under the age of five. However, the country lags behind in categories of Hepatitis B, childhood obesity, violence and alcohol consumption.
The country leading the study is Iceland with a remarkable index of 85, followed by Singapore and Sweden, thanks to good sanitation and healthcare provisions. United Kingdom and Canada are also ranked in the top ten with an index of 82 and 81 respectively. Afghanistan find themselves in the bottom ten with a score of 26. Central African Republic being the lowest at 20.
The aim of the SDG assessment is to ensure accountability on progress towards the targets, to give policymakers, aid groups and health workers an overview of gaps and priorities in health care.
“(It is) a starting point for further investigation on how and why countries are under-performing or performing well,” said Stephen Lim, a professor of global health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at Washington University which led the assessment.
“This will be an annual effort to ensure progress is maintained and lessons from successes are learned and rapidly transferred to other countries,” he said.