Unemployment and the role of health care professionals


Nadia Islam

The success and joy of an individual greatly depends on many factors such as health, wealth, social status and autonomy. These factors are more or less dependent on the level of earnings. We are living in a developing country where majority of the population earn insufficient to fulfill their needs. Pakistan is one of the developing countries having a population of 180.71 million. The unemployment rate in Pakistan has gone up to 6.2 percent during 2010-2011 (Khuram et al., 2013). According to International Labour Organization (ILO)

“Unemployment is the situation of being out of the work or need job and continuously searching for it in the last four week or unemployed (age 16 or above) but available to join work in the next two weeks. People who voluntarily do not want to work, full time student, retired people and children are not include in unemployment category”(Mahmood et al., 2014).

The issue of unemployment is common worldwide and currently a burning issue in Pakistan. The rich are growing richer and the poor poorer and gap is widening between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. This affects human dignity because every individual is worthy to spend a respectable life with his family. As per article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment”. In our country the rights were poorly defined in policies and the problem is its implementation. There is poor law and ordinance system in Pakistan (Cheema & Atta, 2014).

The factor which greatly contributes to unemployment in Pakistan is the population growth rate. The annual growth rate is 2.03% in Pakistan (Khuram et al., 2013). The increase in population overburdens and depletes the limited resources. Consequently, people face problems in finding work. The increase in population implies bringing more uneducated people as labor force. To overcome this situation healthcare providers play vital role. There is also gap between health care professionals and community. There are family planning centers in major parts of Pakistan but most are inaccessible to the target community which leaves the growth rate uncontrolled. Second factor which leads to unemployment is poor occupational skills and poor education system in our country (Cheema & Atta, 2014).  Youth only focus on getting degree rather than seeking marketable skills therefore they face difficulties in finding jobs. Poor law and order situation further aggravates unemployment.  Another factor which is most obvious in Pakistan is the late retirement age, which is 60 years. The freshly graduating youth is waiting for jobs but due to reserved post and vacancies occupied by over-age individuals, they missed the opportunities that ultimately lead to unemployment (Mahmood et al., 2014).

Khurram et al., (2013) explain that unemployment is alarming situation that have terrible consequences on social and psychological aspects. Social problems include stealing, kidnapping, crimes, female trafficking, suicidal attempts and suicidal thoughts.  Just recently I had a chance to meet a suicidal patient in a hospital. He was unemployed after completing his MBA degree. He felt hopelessness and attempted suicide because of the social pressure. The major psychological disorders which results due to unemployment are depression, disappointment, violent behavior and stigmatization. In 1963, Ervin Goffman identified three types of stigma; he categorized unemployment in stigma of character traits.  Stigma directs many negative outcomes such as suicides, self-hatred and aggression. In addition, economical problems include poverty. The increasing rate of unemployment makes the collection of taxes difficult. This directly affects the socio- economic conditions of a country. It affects the health of individuals. For spending healthy life all social determinants should be present. Whitehead, Dahlgren &Gilson, 2001,   discussed that education, work environment, employment, healthcare services, living and working conditions are main factors of social determinants of health.

The healthcare professionals have key role in improving unemployment. At individual level, we need to assess the causative agents of unemployment. Increase in growth rate is deep rooted. As discussed above there is gap between community and healthcare provider. Survey the community and then educate them about family planning services. Apart from awareness sessions, healthcare professionals should also provide contraceptives to control overpopulation. Unemployed individuals need counseling and support. We should also encourage individuals who are novice to work with employers to get marketable skills and have experience of work. The revolutions in internet and communication technologies have revolutionized the opportunities in online business. Some of the solutions include; a healthcare provider should work with other institution to enhance skills, creativity and interest of youth.  Self-employment as a profession benefits many others in the society. Those having fine motor skills such as making handcrafts and knitting can earn well. It will also improve socio economic system of a country.

In conclusion, the dark clouds of unemployment cover not only Pakistan but it is a menace globally.  Unemployment is a condition in which individuals strive to search and find a suitable job. Overpopulation, lack of skills, poor law and order leads to unemployment. To overcome this issue healthcare providers play an important role in supporting individuals emotionally, psychologically and socioeconomically.

The writer is currently a student of the Aga Khan University, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Karachi

References list

Cheema, A. R., & Atta, A. (2014). Economic Determinants of Unemployment in Pakistan: Co-integration Analysis. International Journal Of Business And Social Science, 5(3).


Khurram, M. I., Butt, T. M., Shahbaz, B., Ahmad, S., Rahman, M. A., Shakoor, U., … & Rizwan,        M. (2013). Effects of unemployed rural youth on rural development (ORIC-13-03). African      Journal of Agricultural, 8(44), 5562-5571.

Mahmood, T., Ali, A., Akhtar, N., Iqbal, M., Qamar, S., Nazir, H. Z. … & Sana, I. (2014). Determinants of Unemployment In Pakistan: A Statistical Study.International Journal of Asian Social Science, 4(12), 1163-1175.

Salim,N.(2015).Human Rights and social determinants of health[PDF document].

Salim,N.(2015).Prejudice, stigmatization and discrimination[PDF document].

Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity: An Overview of the Book by Erving Goffman. Retrieved from

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (n.d.). Retrieved from




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