Gender and Health Care Utilisation in Pakistan

Syed Mubashir Ali


This study is undertaken to test whether or not there exists
gender bias in health care utilisation of sick children in Pakistan.
Overall, the results are encouraging, as medical consultation has been
sought for by a very high proportion (79 percent) of sick children.
Moreover, there do not appear to be significant differences by gender in
health care utilisation, be it curative or preventive. This is so in
spite of the fact that many studies on various gender-related issues in
Pakistan have generally shown significant gender bias in favour of male
children. Thus one may conclude that parental altruism prevails at least
in the provision of health care to sick children. However, the extent
and magnitude of effect varies by geographical, socio-economic, and
demographic characteristics of the mother. In view of these findings,
efforts should be made to minimise gender differentials among various
categories of people so that children living in any circumstances may
have equal opportunity of health care utilisation. This will be possible
when health care facilities are easily accessible to all. The Lady
Health Workers Programme of the Government of Pakistan is a major
positive step in this regard. Under this programme, health care
facilities are provided at people’s door-step. The expansion of this
programme will be extremely beneficial in helping parents to provide
health care facilities to sick children, both male and

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