So grave and terrifying

By Zubeida Mustafa

DR Tipu Sultan, president of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), has described the health situation in the country as ”grave, embarrassing and terrifying”. He is not exaggerating. A report titled Health of the Nation that the PMA has prepared is a scathing indictment of the state of the health sector. There has been a tremendous slide and the progress made in the last decade has been literally wiped out.

It is strange that in the chaos that engulfs Pakistan today, the crumbling state of the health care system — on which our destiny hinges — has been totally ignored. With public attention focused on our unsavoury politics, many health concerns have gone unnoticed.

Surprisingly our rulers should fail to see the connection between politics and health – a fundamental right of the citizens. The state of their health determines their span of life, sense of well being – both physical and mental — stamina to work and so on. These factors are basic to a nation’s productivity and therefore its national economy. As for our politics, it is influenced by our human capital, that is in turn shaped by the state of health and quality of life of the people.

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8 thoughts on “So grave and terrifying”

  1. As someone who has worked all his life in the medical field and because I have been living in a rural area since 1981, permit me to mention
    Health problems in the rural 3rd world are due to (a) poor sanitation (b) bad drinking water.
    Get rid of the flies,mosquitoes and provide clean potable H2O and you will get rid of 80 % of rural health problems.
    Take care of maternal health & under nourishment; that would be one more step towards NATIONAL HEALTH & its aims.

    ahmed

  2. PS
    An after thought.
    It also helps if the medical profession of ALL ranks are genuinely concerned about the
    the POOR in our midst. Poverty is not their fault; its their helplessness.

    BUT globilization of medicine and privatization of health services puts medical care beyond the reach of the poor.
    NO ONE SHOULD BE DENIED MEDICAL TREATMENT JUST BECAUSE HE/SHE
    CAN NOT pay FOR IT.
    That’s not fair !!!!

    1. @ahmad41.That is what Dr Adibul Hasan Rizvi at the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation also says and he has proved that it is possible to provide free health care to everyone. What is more, unlike other hospitals that give medical treatment as charity, at Siut no one is asked to prove his poverty. Dignity is equally important. Zubeida

  3. There is no denying the fact that health of situation of nation is grave and provision of health services almost nonexistant and we have nonresponsive health system. While recommending solution to the issue in my opinion opinion we usually loose context e.g, Can mere budget increase make the difference what if when health system has no linkages with authorities responsible to provide water supply, sanitation, environment, industrial waste management so on and so forth.

  4. this is continuation of my comment Another important factor is world there is increasing trend in Non communicable diseases here in our country due to lack of health researh still not clear that what to focus.
    In my view we all agree that we are in the midst of crises and facing extraordinary situation in whole social sector development. particularly health and education and their relvent sectors, therefore, response also need to be extraordinary. Health sector Policy which is in shape of draft since 2009 immediately be published, Provinces must be geared up to prepare health plan looking in to systems change perspective, Public private pratnership model is need of time we can think of handing over facities, one or two services like eye care, ambulance, lab, facility specific human resource with market salary, involving community in decision making and monitoring of health facilities particulary rural areas, medical university divert activities towards research and development particulary in the cost efficient provision of services.
    This is difficult and challenging path but not as challenging as health crises which is directly reducing our potential human resource.

  5. Shaukat Khanum has an interesting approach. They say that no one at Shaukat Khanum is treated free of charge. Some patients pay their own dues while for others the dues are paid by someone else. One impact of this thinking in the organisation is that except for the few people in the accounts department, no one knows whether a patient's bills are paid by her or by someone else. All patients are treated equal and there are no private rooms. It is quite common that on one bed there is a multi-millionaire while on the other bed in the same room there is a patient who's bills are being paid from the funds raised by the hospital's fund raising efforts.

  6. So grave and terrifying is a timely reminder that our health services are not properly addressed and priorities are misplaced. To add insult to the injurty democracy for the health workers has been interpreted as writing graffiti on the hospital premisis including ICU, instead of serving the patients with more dedication. Pressurise the hospital administration for wrong favours. .As regards the Federal government, there is no Health Minister, there is a part time Heath Secretary since the passage of the 18th amendment. No decisions are taken as every one is waiting for the devolution. Nizam Ul hasan

  7. The health problems of this country aggravate day by day,and need immense reforms. Discussion on the plethora of factors responsible for the dismal health condition in the country may be a chapter of interest, however, to be a part of the solution, let us write about the possible reforms in this sector. It’s a matter of fact that provision of health facilities is the soul for a healthy and prosperous society. None can believe in personal power without good health. Nations, who have risen as the leading powers in the world, have concentrated their attention on good health. We need to realize this fact and include health reforms in our agenda of policy making. Our govt. non govt organisations (NGOs), health institutions, educational institutions, print and electronic media and other stakeholders should be involved in a joined effort for eradicating multiple health problems.
    The 1st goal should be
    *to educate and create awareness about health problems and possible treatment and preventive measures. * People may be trained and educated about their personal hygiene, prevention of diseases, usage of preventive measures like mosquito nets, vaccination, sterilized drinking water, hygienic and healthy food, excercise and healthy lifestyle.
    * provide health facilities to the people with easy access and free of cost upto maximum possible extent. The NGOs can specially play a role in this.
    * Apart from district headquarter hospitals, local hospitals and BHUs should be constructed in the rural areas. All such hospitals and health units should be provided with necessary staff including physicians, pharmacists, nutritionists, nurses and paramedical staff. The hospitals may also be provided with modern machinery and necessary health equipments.
    * Provision of essential drugs should be ensured in the hospitals.
    *The large teaching hospitals should be run in a track to become research institutes in the nearby future. This wil not only improve the health condition in this country but will also enable these teaching hospitals to work in collaboration with internationaly reputed health institutes and organisations.
    *Another important issue is the myriad problems in pharmaceutical sector. Spurious and low quality drugs are common in the market. This is extremely dangerous and unacceptable. It is disappointing that drug inspectors/controllers and the judiciary don’t pay any attention to this issue.

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