In a perplexing scenario, Pakistan is facing a substantial unemployment crisis among its female medical professionals, despite a critical shortage of qualified doctors in the country.
In a perplexing scenario, Pakistan is facing a substantial unemployment crisis among its female medical professionals, despite a critical shortage of qualified doctors in the country. This unsettling revelation comes at a time when the government allocates substantial resources to subsidize medical education in public universities.
According to a collaborative study conducted by Gallup Pakistan and PRIDE, a staggering 35% of female medical doctors in Pakistan are currently unemployed. The research, based on the Labour Force Survey for 2020-21, meticulously analyzed data from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics concerning the labor market, particularly focusing on female medical graduates.
Presently, Pakistan is home to 104,974 female medical graduates. Among them, 68,209 (65%) are actively employed in various public and private medical facilities. Disturbingly, a significant portion, comprising 15,619 (14.9%), are struggling to secure employment, while 21,146 (20.1%) have chosen to remain outside the labor force altogether.
Bilal Gilani, Executive Director at Gallup Pakistan, underscored the scarcity of adequately trained medical practitioners in Pakistan. Despite producing approximately 200,000 doctors since 1947, half of whom are female, the country grapples with a substantial dearth of medical professionals.
One of the critical issues contributing to this dilemma is the reluctance of qualified female doctors to join the workforce. This stands as a perplexing situation, especially considering that a substantial portion of these professionals graduated from public sector universities, where the government heavily subsidizes education.
An average private university charges medical students over Rs 5 million, while government institutions provide the same education for less than Rs 1 million, with the government effectively subsidizing around Rs 4 million per medical doctor.
The economic impact of this situation is significant, with an estimated investment of at least 200 billion rupees going to waste for the 50,000 unemployed female doctors. Gilani emphasized the necessity to reevaluate the costs to taxpayers and the resultant impact on healthcare outcomes.
Dr. Shahid Naeem, Director of Policy Research at PRIDE, shed light on the fact that one in five medical graduates opts to stay out of the labor force. A significant portion of these individuals are married, indicating a prevailing social trend of pursuing medical education to enhance marriage prospects.
The study’s findings also corroborate the prevalence of ‘doctor brides,’ a phenomenon widely discussed in Pakistan, suggesting that families prioritize medical education for their daughters as it increases their chances of finding a suitable spouse. Additionally, the research provided regional insights, emphasizing the need for targeted policy efforts to bolster employment opportunities, especially in rural areas, where unemployment rates are more pronounced.