The Use of Evidence to Design an Essential Package of Health Services in Pakistan: A Review and Analysis of Prioritisation Decisions at Different Stages of the Appraisal Process

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Global Health & Development, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK

2 Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Islamabad, Pakistan

3 Department of Health Evidence, Radboud Institute of Health Sciences, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

4 Centre for Health Economics, University of York, York, UK

5 Department of Community Health Sciences, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan

6 Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK

7 DCP3 Country Translation Project, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK


Pakistan embarked on a process of designing an essential package of health services (EPHS) as a pathway towards universal health coverage (UHC). The EPHS design followed an evidence-informed deliberative process; evidence on 170 interventions was introduced along multiple stages of appraisal engaging different stakeholders tasked with prioritising interventions for inclusion. We report on the composition of the package at different stages, analyse trends of prioritised and deprioritised interventions and reflect on the trade-offs made.
Quantitative evidence on cost-effectiveness, budget impact, and avoidable burden of disease was presented to stakeholders in stages. We recorded which interventions were prioritised and deprioritised at each stage and carried out three analyses: (1) a review of total number of interventions prioritised at each stage, along with associated costs per capita and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) averted, to understand changes in affordability and efficiency in the package, (2) an analysis of interventions broken down by decision criteria and intervention characteristics to analyse prioritisation trends across different stages, and (3) a description of the trajectory of interventions broken down by current coverage and cost-effectiveness.
Value for money generally increased throughout the process, although not uniformly. Stakeholders largely prioritised interventions with low budget impact and those preventing a high burden of disease. Highly cost-effective interventions were also prioritised, but less consistently throughout the stages of the process. Interventions with high current coverage were overwhelmingly prioritised for inclusion.
Evidence-informed deliberative processes can produce actionable and affordable health benefit packages. While cost-effective interventions are generally preferred, other factors play a role and limit efficiency.