When going through the recent budget of 18 -19, it was striking to see that only Rs. 200 million has been allocated for the National Preventive Health Programme. Now for a population of 193.2 million, this is not even close to enough, and it makes one wonder if this is the cost of our lives? It concerns me more because non-communicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, are growing at a high speed in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). In fact, 28 million people die from cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory diseases and cancers in these countries annually, representing nearly 75% of deaths from NCDs globally. 

It goes without saying that patients in LMICs are not receiving the medicines and care they need, therefore we need new ways to ensure access to treatments for NCDs. As a result, a very famous Swiss based pharmaceutical has this Access Programme which aims to drive a step change in access to medicines in LMICs. This program focuses on affordability and availability of 15 on- and off-patent medicines addressing the four main NCD types cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory diseases, and breast cancer. The best part is that the portfolio is offered as a basket at a price of USD 1 per treatment per month, providing top quality medicines to those who need it. 

NUZAIR A. VIRANI,  

Karachi, May 28.