The first health institution built in Pakistan was a 42-bed maternity hospital - formerly known as the Janbai Maternity Home - opened in Karachi in 1924. Today, while maintaining that early focus on maternal and child health, Aga Khan Health Services also offers services that range from primary health care to diagnostic services and curative care. It reaches over 1.1 million people in rural and urban Sindh, Punjab as well as Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral.
As the largest not-for-profit private health care system in Pakistan, its goal is to supplement the Government's efforts in health care provision, especially in the areas of maternal and child health and primary health care.In the North of Pakistan, the Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS) has been implementing the Northern Pakistan Primary Health Care Programme since 1987. Working in partnership with local communities, the government, and other AKDN institutions, like the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, the goal has been to find sustainable ways of financing and delivering primary health care in the high-mountain valleys. This has led to a village-based approach -- the designation of community health workers by the local village organisation, the training of these workers in community-based disease prevention, and the reorientation of health professionals (government and private) to primary health care. Since it began, AKHS,P has trained over 1000 Community Health Workers in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. AKHS,P manages in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral (GBC) 57 Basic Health Centres (BHCs), seven Comprehensive Health Centres (CHCs) of 10 to 30 beds, and the 50-bed Gilgit Medical Centre. Four of these CHCs are run via public-private partnerships (PPPs) agreements with government. These assets cover around 600,000 people, mostly Jamati. The health systems approach with a traditional emphasis on maternal, neonatal and child health (MNCH) is being complemented by community-based models which address the non-communicable disease (NCD) burden, including mental health issues and palliative care. e-Health is in place for three health care facilities: Gilgit, Booni and Garamchashma. The goals of AKHS,P in the recently agreed strategic framework for GBC are to
- support government health policies and plans including expansion of PPPs;
- support the health needs of GBC including recalibrating and refocussing of the BHC services and strengthening of the secondary health care services;
- increase sustainability including introducting and scaling up health insurance and social protection schemes; and
- implement and contribute to global standards in health and health care through working closer with AKU and other partners in training and operations research.
Through this and related programmes, AKHS,P has been working to promote a new orientation of health services in Pakistan towards primary health care. Close collaboration with AKF and AKU has been the cornerstone of this endeavour. The three institutions are also collaborating in a drive to build health systems linking preventive and curative care efforts, as well as the different levels in the AKHS,P system, from the village health centre to the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi.