KARACHI  - Pakistan is among the high ranking countries where people are still get affected of preventable diseases like tuberculosis, polio and malaria while non-communicable diseases are raising vigorously in different cities due to apathy of the authorities concerned which is not playing its due role, said Dr Ahmed Salman Khan Ghauri, President of Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) Karachi.

He said since the 18th Amendment in the Constitution, the health is now provincial chapter, but till to date there is tug of war among the major institutions due to ill-management that hurt common citizen.

Massive awareness, proper treatment and enabling environments can reduce the prevalence of the high blood pressure, which is the goal of World Health Day 2013. “So far our health authorities have been unable to pay heed to the fact that common citizens do not get the health service promised to them.”

The cases of high blood pressure are on the rise among the working class, which termed 2012 as bad year for the particular strata of the society.

Dr Ghauri, who is also Consultant Cardiologist at National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, Karachi said this year the theme of World Health Day 2013 is high blood pressure that causes heart attacks and strokes. Dr Ghauri said the risk of developing high blood pressure can be controlled by reducing salt intake; eating a balanced diet; avoiding harmful use of alcohol; taking regular physical activity; maintaining a healthy body weight and avoiding tobacco use.

High blood pressure is a silent killer as it causes no symptoms for many years while damaging certain critical organs, non serious approach towards controlling high blood pressure can cause heart attacks, kidney failure and stroke, President PIMA said. He quoted WHO report stating that the expenditure on health per capita in Pakistan is merely $59 which is very low as it is compared to India with $132 and Sri Lanka with $148. There is a dire need to provide relief to masses, he said, adding that early consultation with doctors can cut down the costs on diseases. There is no population base statistics, which depicts accurately the diseases existence in our society, he added.

The World Health Day was marked on April 7 across the globe to highlight the significance for governments to invest in the key health sector.  The focus this year is on hypertensions (Blood Pressure) that have been known as the silent killers. According to the World health Organization (WHO), 40 per cent of adults aged 25 and over have raised blood pressure and 17.3 million people die from cardiovascular diseases in the world. With the kind of stress factors that are an unfortunate part of human existence in Pakistan, the implications of these statistics cannot be over-emphasised.

The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and its network of branches across the country have been actively lobbying at all possible tiers to improve the healthcare delivery mechanism in the country which, beyond doubt, is going from bad to worse by the passing day.

At one level, it suffers because not enough funds are allocated to the sector. Subsequent governments have been reminded time and time again that annual allocations for key social sector, including health, have been alarmingly low, causing serious problems to the masses and an equally serious setback to efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to which the Government of Pakistan is a signatory.

The WHO has recommended an expenditure of six per cent of national GDP on health. In Pakistan, less than two per cent is the norm. Moreover, the problem also lies in the manner of expenditure of these precious funds.  Vested interest lobbies active in the arena represent the biggest hurdle in the way of any effective execution of whatever funds the health sector gets. The PMA Annual Health Report has been highlighting the simple fact that Public Health is a victim of misplaced priorities and widespread corruption.  It’s time the government realised that what the country needs is an efficient primary and emergency healthcare system and provision of basic facilities; not lavish expenditure on tertiary care centres and elite medical towers.

In a country where 70 per cent of the population has no access to primary and emergency care, 1.2 million people die of water-borne diseases annually, a child dies of some disease every minute, and 70 women die of pregnancy-related complications every day, the government has no justification to spend money on lavish projects. The PMA says it is a shame that Iran and Bangladesh had successfully eradicated polio with six and four rounds respectively, while new polio cases are still being reported in Pakistan despite having over 70 rounds of vaccination. PMA demands that, as recommended by the WHO, six per cent of GDP must be spent on health and expenditure must be monitored to ensure transparency. In the absence of such steps, the teeming millions of Pakistan will continue to suffer for no fault of their own.