Affordability of healthcare is a basic human right and should be accessible to the general public. However, living in a country like Pakistan, the common man sometimes cannot afford a life threatening disease because of the expenses involved. At times, patients die of grave diseases because they cannot continue to bear the expenses of their treatment anymore. However, in a new initiative between Novartis Pharmaceutical and the Punjab Government, it looks like a step has been taken to eradicate the aforementioned scenario through a joint agreement. The arrangement involves providing free of cost medicines to patients suffering from breast cancer, diabetes, and heart and respiratory diseases. Novartis will provide Rs 6 billion worth of medicines to patients without any cost and medication will be paid for by the Government of Punjab at a cost of $1 per patient. This will allow the patients to purchase medicines at highly affordable rates. Around 300,000 to 500,000 patients are expected to benefit from the initiative.

Another initiative by Novartis which is expected to benefit over 9,000 cancer patients is a joint collaboration with the Punjab Health Department to offer improved healthcare facilities to cancer patients. This is a major step in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector as typically patients fail to continue their treatment because they cannot afford the medicines anymore. Cancer, Cardiovascular and Respiratory diseases are leading causes of deaths globally. Economic condition of households in Pakistan in most cases is crucial where people barely make both ends meet. The lower to middle socio-economic class are the ones most deserving of such initiatives. Therefore, efforts like the one taken by Novartis is commendable as they are living up to their true values and vision. However, I hope that this initiative results in a domino effect where other sectors are also involved and contribute in helping out patients who need medical assistance the most.

KIRAN FAROOQ,

Karachi, November 16.