Tuesday, June 4, 2019

How Grim is the State of Pakistan's Social Sector?

If you read Pakistan media headlines and donation-seeking NGOs and activists' reports these days, you'd conclude that the social sector situation is entirely hopeless. However, if you look at children's education and health trend lines based on data from credible international sources, you would feel a sense of optimism. This exercise gives new meaning to what former US President Bill Clinton has said: Follow the trend lines, not the headlines. Unlike the alarming headlines, the trend lines in Pakistan show rising school enrollment rates and declining infant mortality rates.

Key Social Indicators:

The quickest way to assess Pakistan's social sector progress is to look at two key indicators:  School enrollment rates and infant mortality. These basic social indicators capture the state of schooling, nutrition and health care. Pakistan is continuing to make slow but steady progress on both of these indicators. Anything that can be done to accelerate the pace will help Pakistan move up to higher levels as proposed by Dr. Hans Rosling and adopted by the United Nations. 

Rising Primary Enrollment:

Gross enrollment in Pakistani primary schools exceeded 97% in 2016, up from 92% ten years ago. Gross enrollment rate (GER) is different from net enrollment rate (NER). The former refers to primary enrollment of all students of all ages while the latter counts enrolled students as percentage of students in the official primary age bracket. The primary NER in Pakistan is significantly lower but the higher GER indicates many of these kids eventually enroll in primary schools albeit at older ages. 

Source: World Bank Education Statistics


Declining Infant Mortality Rate: 

The infant mortality rate (IMR), defined as the number of deaths in children under 1 year of age per 1000 live births in the same year, is universally regarded as a highly sensitive (proxy) measure of population health.  A declining rate is an indication of improving health. IMR in Pakistan has declined from 86 in 1990-91 to 74 in 2012-13 and 62 in the latest survey in 2017-18.

Pakistan Child Mortality Rates. Source: PDHS 2017-18

During the 5 years immediately preceding the survey, the infant mortality rate (IMR) was 62 deaths per 1,000 live births. The child mortality rate was 13 deaths per 1,000 children surviving to age 12 months, while the overall under-5 mortality rate was 74 deaths per 1,000 live births. Eighty-four percent of all deaths among children under age 5 in Pakistan take place before a child’s first birthday, with 57% occurring during the first month of life (42 deaths per 1,000 live births).

Human Development Ranking:

It appears that improvements in education and health care indicators in Pakistan are slower than other countries in South Asia region. Pakistan's human development ranking plunged to 150 in 2018, down from 149 in 2017. It is worse than Bangladesh at 136, India at 130 and Nepal at 149. The decade of democracy under Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) has produced the slowest annual human development growth rate in the last 30 years. The fastest growth in Pakistan human development was seen in 2000-2010, a decade dominated by President Musharraf's rule, according to the latest Human Development Report 2018.

UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) represents human progress in one indicator that combines information on people’s health, education and income.

Pakistan's Human Development Growth Rate By Decades. Source: HDR 2018

Pakistan saw average annual HDI (Human Development Index) growth rate of 1.08% in 1990-2000, 1.57% in 2000-2010 and 0.95% in 2010-2017, according to Human Development Indices and Indicators 2018 Statistical Update.  The fastest growth in Pakistan human development was seen in 2000-2010, a decade dominated by President Musharraf's rule, according to the latest Human Development Report 2018.

Pakistan@100: Shaping the Future:

Pakistani leaders should heed the recommendations of a recent report by the World Bank titled "Pakistan@100: Shaping the Future" regarding investments in the people. Here's a key excerpt of the World Bank report:

"Pakistan’s greatest asset is its people – a young population of 208 million. This large population can transform into a demographic dividend that drives economic growth. To achieve that, Pakistan must act fast and strategically to: i) manage population growth and improve maternal health, ii) improve early childhood development, focusing on nutrition and health, and iii) boost spending on education and skills for all, according to the report".

Summary: 

The state of Pakistan's social sector is not as dire as the headlines suggest. There's reason for optimism. Key indicators show that education and health care in Pakistan are improving but such improvements are slower than in other countries in South Asia region. Pakistan's human development ranking plunged to 150 in 2018, down from 149 in 2017. It is worse than Bangladesh at 136, India at 130 and Nepal at 149. The decade of democracy under Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) has produced the slowest annual human development growth rate in the last 30 years. The fastest growth in Pakistan human development was seen in 2000-2010, a decade dominated by President Musharraf's rule, according to the latest Human Development Report 2018. One of the biggest challenges facing the PTI government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan is to significantly accelerate human development rates in Pakistan.

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5 comments:

Anonymous said...

The trend in Pakistan in health especially child-health is not keeping pace with other countries in South Asia. As a WHO worker, Pakistan seems to be a very difficult place to work. While setting up Polio Administration Programme, we had to get 24/7 armed guard protection because of a pervasive belief that the world was anti-Pakistan. That needs to change for Pakistan's sake.


Morgan

Riaz Haq said...

Morgan: " we had to get 24/7 armed guard protection because of a pervasive belief that the world was anti-Pakistan"

Yes, there are conspiracy theories driving anti-vaxxers in Pakistan as elsewhere in the world but , unfortunately, US CIA actions have reinforced such theories in Pakistan.

Here's how a piece by Maryn McKenna published in Wired magazine describes the outrage:

"I felt, and still feel, that the maneuver — which was belatedly acknowledged by the CIA — was a cynical attempt to hijack the credibility that public health workers have built up over decades with local populations. I especially felt it endangered the status of the fraught polio-eradication campaign, which over the past decade has been challenged in majority-Muslim areas in Africa and South Asia over beliefs that polio vaccination is actually a covert campaign to harm Muslim children — an accusation that seems fantastic, but begins to make sense when you realize some of those areas have perfectly good reasons to distrust vaccination campaigns."

https://www.riazhaq.com/2012/05/american-hypocrisy-on-dr-afridis.html


In spite of serious issues created by US war on terror, the latest PDHS survey indicates that 66% of the children in Pakistan have received all basic vaccinations, up from 35% in 1990-91 and 55% in 2012-13. Only 4% have had no vaccinations, down from 28% in 1990-91.

https://www.riazhaq.com/2019/03/pakistan-survey-reveals-positive-trends.html

Riaz Haq said...

People Can Prosper And Thrive If Pakistan Reforms Faster

https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2019/03/18/people-can-prosper-and-thrive-if-pakistan-reforms-faster

ISLAMABAD, March 18, 2019 – Pakistan urgently needs to invest more and better in its people if they are to be richer, better educated, and healthier when the country turns 100 years old in 2047, says a new report by the World Bank.

Launched today at the Human Capital Summit, the report, Pakistan@100: Shaping the Future, urges Pakistan to overcome its boom-bust cycles through a deep-rooted economic transformation. It recommends the essential reforms Pakistan needs now to accelerate and sustain growth. This means increasing and improving human capital investment, boosting productivity, promoting social and environmental sustainability, ensuring good governance, and leveraging its location to connect more with neighbors and the world beyond says the report.

“There are steps Pakistan can take today to boost its economic performance and thereby ensure a better future for its people,” says Hartwig Schafer, World Bank Vice President for South Asia. “These steps are ones that other countries have taken to open up their business sectors to competition and innovation and laying the foundations for growth, investment, and good jobs.”

The forward-looking report argues that Pakistan’s greatest asset is its people – a young population of 208 million. This large population can transform into a demographic dividend that drives economic growth. To achieve that, Pakistan must act fast and strategically to: i) manage population growth and improve maternal health, ii) improve early childhood development, focusing on nutrition and health, and iii) boost spending on education and skills for all, according to the report.

“Because the next generation is meeting only 40 percent of its potential it means that Pakistan is foregoing much of its economic growth, but this can change if women’s potential is unlocked,” says Annette Dixon, World Bank Vice President for Human Development. “When women and girls are empowered to make their own decisions, they stay in school longer, they start families a little later, have fewer children, contribute more to the economy, and invest more in their children. It’s a virtuous circle that’s good for families and good for the whole country.”

https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/31335

Riaz Haq said...

PM Imran Khan Focuses More On Attracting Investment In Social Sector Under CPEC

https://www.urdupoint.com/en/business/pm-imran-khan-focuses-more-on-attracting-inve-637693.html

Prime Minister Imran Khan has focused more on attracting investment in the social sector within the framework of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which would directly benefit the people of Pakistan, Focal Person of Chief Minister of Balochistan's Task Force on Youth, Sustainable Development Goals, Naseem Khan Achakzai said on Tuesday.

"Within the CPEC project, the Chinese government is expected to help Pakistan build hospitals and schools. This is one of the Prime Minister's focuses, which will directly benefit the people of Pakistan," he said in an exclusive interview with Global Times during his visit to the Chinese capital city.

On the construction of Gwadar Port and other CPEC projects, he remarked that for the growth of CPEC, the Gwadar international airport will be built three years from now, so the port is now somehow operational. There have been housing entities coming to Gwadar.

Gwadar will have its new master plan as well. There's a lot of construction going on when it comes to development projects. Thanks to CPEC, a lot of people, mostly Pakistanis, are purchasing property, both residential and commercial, in Gwadar, he added He informed that there are military troops and the local police who are guarding CPEC projects. The port is not accessible to everyone, only relevant employees.

"It's well understood that the development of CPEC helps improve Pakistan's infrastructure and its economy. It's beneficial for neighboring countries such as Iran and Afghanistan as well. If all goes smoothly, Pakistan will be an even stronger player in the South Asian region,"� he added.

Naseem Achakzai said that increasing technology exchange is one of the important things that should be done. That can be best practiced in the agriculture sector, as Pakistan's economy is highly dependent on the agriculture sector.

It is hoped that there should be greater cooperation in the agricultural field between China and Pakistan for local farmers and landowners to have more produce. A lot of technology has been used in farming in China. The same can be replicated in Pakistan.

Pakistan, he said, also needs to focus even more on healthcare and education, and obviously under the umbrella would be needing further support in these sectors.

He said education and employment are directly interrelated in that improved vocational and technical training, in particular, could better prepare the local labor force for wide-ranging job opportunities enabled by CPEC.

As the project goes further, more jobs will be created and an increase in engineering and exchange in technical know-how will be expected, factoring into the vision that there will be industrial zones around the CPEC route, he added.

While dispelling undue fears over the flagship project, he said since the announcement of CPEC in 2013, the security situation in the whole of Balochistan has improved substantially. From 2013 to date, figures show there's been a rapid decrease in attacks and other target killings.

The Pakistani military has a special division assigned for the CPEC project, he added.

Naseem Achakzai said the stability in Gwadar and Balochistan is very important for CPEC, since Gwadar is the heart and soul of CPEC. After the attack, Pakistan has already been acting more against the terrorist groups.

At the end of March, the second international Gwadar expo was held in the port city, with many high-level Chinese and Pakistan officials attending the expo.

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"Once there's heavy traffic coming on the main route, there are side links attached to it, initially giving a boost to local tourism and local businesses such as restaurants. Everybody is excited about it," he added.

Riaz Haq said...

A #Library Thrives, Quietly, in One of #Pakistan’s #Gun Markets in #Tribal Area. The Darra Adam Khel Library, less than a year old and with more than 2,500 books, offers residents a respite from the #arms bazaar that dominates local life. #FATA #KP
https://nyti.ms/2RmnQ9w

It has even caught the attention of the market’s arms sellers. Noor Ahmad Malik, sitting inside his gun shop, has gotten interested in books about India and Pakistan and Islamic history, calling the library the “best thing that happened recently for the people here.”


Darra Adam Khel was under Taliban control for years until the Pakistani Army cleared it in 2010. Still, it has been regularly targeted by militants, including a suicide bombing in 2012 that killed 16 people, and mosque attacks in 2010 that killed more than 60. With a population of more than 100,000, it is still largely no-man’s land, where Pakistani law wasn’t applicable until the merger of tribal areas in the neighboring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province last year.

Now the military is helping Muhammad build a new library that can accommodate up to 65 people, seeing it as a way to help residents recover from years of traumatic violence.

“People are still reeling from the militancy, which has killed hundreds of civilians and soldiers,” said a government official serving in the area, who spoke on the condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to speak with the news media. “They are more prone to fear and stress, particularly among children, and now the availability of books is a good option for knowledge and education.”


In the nine months it has been open, it has drawn about 240 members, who pay 150 Pakistani rupees, about $1, a year. Thirty members are women, even though Darra Adam Khel is a conservative area where women are not allowed to go outside unaccompanied. They select books using the library’s Facebook page.

One of them is Shifa Raj, Muhammad’s 11-year-old daughter. A sixth grader and avid reader, she helps her father deliver books to the female members of the library.

“I told girls in the school that we have a library in our area: If you are interested, I will provide membership forms,” she said. “The response was remarkable.”

Muhammad considers the Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai “our pride,” for her efforts to champion education for girls and becoming the youngest Nobel Prize laureate.

“I was born here,” Muhammad said. “I want the world to remember Darra Adam Khel with a good reputation, not for guns but for the books.”