An analysis of the gender and social determinants of health in urban poor areas of the most populated cities of Pakistan

Ahmed, Khawaja Aftab, Grundy, John, Hashmat, Lubna, Ahmed, Imran, Farrukh, Saadia, Bersonda, Dexter, Shah, Muhammad Akram, Yunus, Soofia, and Banskota, Hari Krishna (2022) An analysis of the gender and social determinants of health in urban poor areas of the most populated cities of Pakistan. International Journal for Equity in Health, 21 (1). 52.

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Background: Recent surveys, studies and reviews in urban areas of Pakistan have highlighted the impacts of social inequities on access of women and children to health services for women and children in Pakistan. Objectives: The Urban Slum Profiles and coverage surveys were conducted between 2017 and 2019. The objective of the profiles was to obtain an updated listing of slums and other underserved areas, and to better understand current vaccination and health service coverage in these areas. Utilising findings from these studies, this paper aims to better understand the gender and social determinants of health that are giving rise to health inequalities in the slums.

Methods: The Urban Slum Profiles adopted a mixed methods approach combining both qualitative and quantitative methods. The study was comprised of two main survey approaches of Urban Slum Profiles and Immunisation Coverage Survey in 4431 urban poor areas of the 10 most highly populated cities of Pakistan.

Results: Findings are classified into six analytic categories of (1) access to health services, (2) female workforce participation, (3) gender-friendly health services, (4) access to schools and literacy, (5) social connections, and (6) autonomy of decision making. Out of a national sample of 14,531 children in urban poor areas of 10 cities, the studies found that just over half of the children are fully immunised (54%) and 14% of children had received zero doses of vaccine. There are large shortages of health facilities and female health workforce in the slums, with significant gaps in the quality of health infrastructure, which all serve to limit both demand for, and supply of, health services for women and children. Results demonstrate low availability of schools, low levels of female literacy and autonomy over decision making, limited knowledge of the benefits of vaccination, and few social connections outside the home. All these factors interact and reinforce existing gender norms and low levels of health literacy and service access.

Conclusion: The Urban Slum profiles and coverage studies provide an opportunity to introduce gender transformative strategies that include expansion of a female health workforce, development of costed urban health action plans, and an enabling policy environment to support community organisation and more equitable health service delivery access.

Item ID: 74435
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1475-9276
Keywords: Gender, Immunization, Pakistan, Primary health care, Social determinants, Vaccination
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2022. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2022 02:28
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420606 Social determinants of health @ 70%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420602 Health equity @ 30%
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