Despite the controversy that has surrounded the recent budget announcement, one good outcome is the slashed duties on import of Cancer drugs. As per the federal budget, Cancer drugs are now exempted from custom duty at import stage. A lot of times patients are not able to buy medicines for ailments such as Cancer because of the heavy costs involved. Medicines which are not registered in Pakistan have to be imported directly, burdening patients with a cost of around Rs. 500,000 per month. In such circumstances, the exemption of custom duty is a major relief.

The main task now is to create awareness among sufferers of such illnesses and their caregivers about these initiatives. In my opinion Government has been involved in initiating healthcare projects but there is zero awareness and nothing has been done so far to publicize these programs. One such initiative is an ‘Access Program’ which only a few people are aware off. The program is a collaboration between a Swiss based pharmaceutical company and Government to provide authentic and premium quality medicines. Again, it’s a good news for cancer patients and patients of other NCDs as through this program they can now avail medicines for as low as $1 per treatment. Unfortunately, the target audience for this program is barely aware, which indeed is a sad state. Thousands of patients can avail and benefit from this program, only if they are aware of it!

KIRAN FAROOQ,

Karachi, May 4.