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According to the first comprehensive assessment of Pakistan’s health system, published in medical journal The Lancet, Pakistan’s health sector lags behind 12 similar countries in the region. The country has no national health insurance system, and 78% of the population pay health care expenses themselves. The assessment highlights four major challenges: high child and maternal mortality, poor nutrition, an increase in non-communicable diseases, and low public spending. The report suggests simple measures such as training more nurses and midwives and implementing higher excise taxes on cigarettes could have a significant impact on reducing premature deaths from non-communicable diseases by 20% by 2025. The report also acknowledges that progress has been made in some areas, but improvements have been slower than other similar countries. The recently elected government has a unique opportunity to push through reforms and take advantage of recent constitutional changes that devolve health care to the provinces.

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