Country Listing

Pakistan Table of Contents



In 1992 some 35 million Pakistanis, or about 30 percent of the population, were unable to afford nutritionally adequate food or to afford any nonfood items at all. Of these, 24.3 million lived in rural areas, where they constituted 29 percent of the population. Urban areas, with one-third of the national population, had a poverty rate of 26 percent.

Between 1985 and 1991, about 85 percent of rural residents and 100 percent of urban dwellers had access to some kind of Western or biomedical health care; but 12.9 million people had no access to health services. Only 45 percent of rural people had safe water as compared with 80 percent of urbanites, leaving 55 million without potable water. Also in the same period, only 10 percent of rural residents had access to modern sanitation while 55 percent of city residents did; a total of 94.9 million people hence were without sanitary facilities.

In the early 1990s, the leading causes of death remained gastroenteritis, respiratory infections, congenital abnormalities, tuberculosis, malaria, and typhoid. Gastrointestinal, parasitic, and respiratory ailments, as well as malnutrition, contributed substantially to morbidity. The incidence of communicable childhood diseases was high; measles, diphtheria, and pertussis took a substantial toll among children under five. Although the urban poor also suffered from these diseases, those in rural areas were the principal victims.

Despite these discouraging facts, there has been significant improvement in some health indicators, even though the population grew by 130 percent between 1955 and 1960 and between 1985 and 1990, and increasing from 50.0 million in 1960 to 123.4 million in 1993. For example, in 1960 only 25 percent of the population had purportedly safe water (compared with 56 percent in 1992). In addition, average life expectancy at birth was 43.1 years in 1960; in 1992 it had reached 58.3 years.

Data as of April 1994