ISLAMABAD-The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) on Tuesday urged government to increase health budget in order to improve the health delivery system in upcoming year. In a statement released, the PMA expressed concerns over the performance of government in the health sector in 2019 and demanded an increase in health budget allocation as per the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations.

According to WHO recommendations, the health budget of any country should be at least 6 per cent of the national GDP. In our case, the health budget, despite repeated PMA pleas and reminders to the government, has remained less than 1 per cent, said the statement.

It said that in 2019 the polio infection remains endemic despite over 100 rounds of vaccination being carried out in the past decade. Our polio programme has deteriorated as compared to the last year’s polio vaccination programme, which seemed to be on the brink of eradicating wild poliovirus transmission.

The statement further stated that during the current year as many as 117 cases have been reported (KP 83, Sindh 19, Balochistan 9, Punjab 6) as compared to 12 cases in 2018. This is very unfortunate that the International Monitoring Board (IMB) has declared the polio programme and the importance of delivering polio vaccine as “Political Football” in the country. It also observed that there is a lack of political unity behind polio resurgence in the country.

The PMA said that the outbreak of dengue across the country seems to have been particularly vicious during the outgoing year, adding that approximately 50,000 cases have already been reported. This is almost double the number of people infected with the virus in the past decade. This shows the negligence of our rulers, who have done nothing to combat this disease.

It said the number of HIV/AIDS patients in Pakistan currently stands at 165,000 and 9,565 new cases were detected this year. During the year, Rato Dero, a small area in Larkana city of Sindh, alone reported 895 cases of AIDS, of which, 754 constitute children and 141 adults. From April to November 30, about 37,558 people had undergone HIV screening in Larkana, out of which 1,195 were reported with suspected presence of the virulent germs.

The PMA said there have been confirmed cases of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) in Balochistan, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab, which is widely spreading in Pakistan. The deadly Congo [Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic] virus has ‘attacked’ Karachi, the largest city of Pakistan, killing at least 20 people this year.

Over 15 million people are affected with hepatitis B and C in Pakistan. Thousands of new patients are added every year due to lack of prevention, testing, and treatment resources as well as poorly screened blood transfusion, improperly sterilised invasive medical devices and unsafe injections. According to WHO report, the main reason for the rising number of hepatitis C cases in Pakistan, is the presence of a large number of quack doctors. The World Bank estimates that Pakistan’s annual burden of disease due to outdoor air pollution accounts for 22,000 premature adult deaths and 163, 432 DALYS lost, while that for indoor pollution accounts for 40 million cases of acute respiratory infections and 28,000 deaths/year.