Kashif Mustafa Qadri
Pakistan is a country where the healthcare sector is given the least preference by the government. Outbreak of diseases and spread of viruses is a common phenomenon. Not only contagious illnesses pose a direct threat to the masses, the non-communicable diseases that the millions are grappling with are one of the biggest challenges facing the people. Non-communicable diseases are not contagious and include cancer, diabetes, hypertension, cardiac and respiratory illnesses. The sufferers most of the time, not able to bear the severity of the illness, breathe their last. The drawback is that there is no proper forum in our country to inform and educate the people about the initial signs of the non-communicable disease confronting them. Pakistan is on top of the Asian countries with 52 percent males and 53 percent females dying of non-communicable diseases under the age of 70 every year. The country bears the brunt of having the highest rate of breast cancer patients in South Asia with 60 to 70 percent in advanced stages. We are ranked among the top 10 countries globally with diabetic patients whereas 50 percent of the adult population suffers from hypertension. The federal government allocated a budget of just 22 billion rupees for healthcare for the year 2016-17. One can imagine with what seriousness these life-threatening diseases are being dealt with in a land that inhabits 200 million people. Lack of basic necessities of life, impure food, contaminated water, polluted environment, hectic lifestyle, unemployment and dependence on a single breadwinner are some of the other reasons for the spread of non-communicable diseases. Government policies are weak and the country is a breeding ground for untrained physicians and quacks posing themselves as qualified doctors. They play with the life of those afflicted by various diseases. Non-availability of medicines and sale of spurious drugs add to the misery of the sufferers. The authorities seem to be least interested as no policy has been devised or measures taken to address the gravity of the serious diseases.