COVID-19 VERSUS HEALTH IMPERATIVES

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Iftikhar Ali Malik

It happens, perhaps, for the first time in my life that the holy month of Ramazan is void of festivity, mosques are empty and even the most revered cities of Makkah Moazma & Madina Munawwara have been closed for collective worship. Partial, smart and strict lockdowns are proposed and adopted throughout the world. Big and small, all countries have partially shut down or totally stopped the business activities. It has resulted in the loss of billions of dollars and has made the poor, too poor to afford one-time meal. Every day, deaths are increasing from this unbridled epidemic.

One thing has been observed that can change our future development plans. It is the unnecessary urbanization. Deaths from this Corona disease are reported from big cities like Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Lahore. The rapid change in climate may cause the spread of similar infectious diseases in future. Immediately we should embark upon a pattern that ensures scattering of industries to various rural areas where basic facilities like gas, electricity, telephone and road can be provided easily or economically. It will reduce the migration of manpower to big cities.

The next reality is that our health sector is too inadequate and inefficient to combat any epidemic. Private sector has developed a number of hospitals, some too modern for providing healthcare facilities but these are very expensive and out of reach of the common man. It is suggested that the government should increase the budgetary allocations for health sector and establish more hospitals keeping in view the increasing population and the emerging new diseases.

Certain philanthropists from the private sector have established hospitals that provide medical facilities to the common man free or at nominal charges. These hospitals should be patronized by the government and world social welfare organizations.

Guard Group of Companies stand tall in the private sector for fulfilling their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by setting up two hospitals, first at Wahdat Road, Lahore, close to the Guard Filter Factory and the 2nd at Raiwind Road, Lahore, close to Rice Mill. In addition to the factory workers, hospitals accommodate the needy of surrounding areas for treatment at a very low fee. Hospitals are well equipped and staffed with competent specialists and doctors of outstanding fame and having long experience. Founder Chairman of the Guard Group and Mumtaz Bakhtawar Memorial Trust Hospitals, late Muhammad Shafi Malik was awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan on the 23rd of March 2003, at Islamabad in recognition of his social welfare services. Guard Group is looking after these hospitals very ably and endeavoring to equip these with the latest diagnose and treatment facilities.

(The writer is CEO, Guard Group & Chairman, Mumtaz Bakhtawar Memorial Trust Hospital)