Healthcare in Pakistan varies considerably, depending on a number of factors. Those living in larger cities will find that the healthcare available is adequate, whereas in rural areas it can be of an extremely poor standard.
Efforts to upgrade the healthcare system in Pakistan have been put into place, with plans to establish a universal healthcare programme by 2025 underway. This is yet to show significant progress though.
Emergency response is unreliable, with limited numbers of ambulances. In the event of an emergency, taking a taxi or driving to the hospital can often be a wiser option.
Public healthcare in Pakistan
While Pakistan offers both public and private options, most expats opt for the latter. In fact, most expats employed by international companies or diplomatic missions operating in Pakistan will have a comprehensive health insurance plan set up for them so they won't need to consider using public facilities while in the country.
There are government-run hospitals that are low-cost and offer basic medical treatment, but the standard is often quite low and not in line with what most expats, especially those from Western countries, would be accustomed too.
Private healthcare in Pakistan
Pakistan has a number of expensive private medical facilities, mostly located in the urban areas of Karachi and Lahore. It is highly recommended that expats take out comprehensive private health insurance if this isn't provided by their employer. Medical insurance should also include provision for the possibility of emergency medical evacuation to a nearby country with superior facilities.
Below is a list of private hospitals in Pakistan.
Address: 152-G/1, Canal Bank, Johar Town, Lahore
Address: 262-263 West Wood Colony, Thokar Niaz Baig, Lahore
Address: C-76, Sector 31/5, Korangi Crossing, Karachi
Address: H Block, Model Town, Lahore
Address: ST-1, Block-F, North Nazimabad, Karachi
Pharmacies in Pakistan
Pharmacies are readily available in urban centres but outlets are often understaffed when it comes to qualified personnel. Anyone travelling to outlying rural areas for extended periods should pack basic medications. Those living in rural areas may need to travel to larger towns to fill prescriptions.
There have been some improvements in recent years. Online services have reduced the need for people to physically visit a pharmacy and people can instead have their medication delivered to them, in urban areas at least.
It is important to note that some medications may be known by a different name in Pakistan and it is, therefore, wise to bring ample supply when moving to the country and to speak to a general practitioner about alternatives that may be available.
Health hazards in Pakistan
Malaria is a risk in rural areas, and polio and dengue fever are common too. Expats should take the necessary precautions, including being vaccinated before leaving for Pakistan, and should avoid drinking tap water.