Pakistanis are already facing numerous problems, both economically and socially. The list of things we are deprived of is long. It includes: housing, infrastructure, health facilities, fresh drinking water, and sewage.

One of the most deadly issues we face is the distribution and sale of fake medicines. This includes fake birth control pills, anti-malaria pills made of potato and starch, and cough syrups. In a research report by the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 10 medical products circulating in low and middle-income countries are either substandard or falsified. As a concerned parent, it scares me every time I have to get medicines for my children. Need not to remind that the basic healthcare facilities are a right of every citizen of Pakistan. In the same report by WHO, there was something which caught my attention.

A program called Novartis Access offers a portfolio approach in the healthcare industry, primarily aimed at increasing availability and affordability of 15 medicines addressing key non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The good news is that the company behind this initiative plans to roll out this program in 30 countries. This program seems like the beacon of light at the end of a dark tunnel.

I firmly believe that we need to get rid of the menace of fake medicines because these are playing with the health of people.

NUZAIR A. VIRANI,

Karachi, December 27.