A Pinch Of Thoughts

Health Problems in Pakistan

Pakistan suffers from many health issues that threaten its citizens. These problems can be traced back to various causes such as inadequate education, subpar sanitation services and polluted drinking water sources.

People often consume unhealthy food and drinks without realizing the potential repercussions, including asthma. Other common diseases include Hepatitis A and E which spread through unclean water sources.

Infectious diseases

Infectious diseases continue to be a significant source of morbidity and mortality in Pakistan, particularly overcrowded cities, polluted water supplies, poor sanitation facilities, insufficient health awareness levels and limited vaccination coverage – factors which put Pakistan at greater risk of epidemics than its neighbors. Pakistan bears an overwhelming proportion of regional burden from communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B/C virus infections, Malaria tuberculosis and Polio.

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases and affects an estimated annual incidence rate of about 1.4 million in Pakistan alone. Two-thirds of those whose treatments fail die.

Diarrheal infections and respiratory illnesses are two leading causes of death in India. Diarrheal infections can be brought about by viruses and bacteria entering through food or water contaminants, while respiratory illnesses often arise due to dust, smog, or air pollution.

Pakistan’s high malnutrition rate puts children at particular risk for infection and preventable diseases like measles, rubella, mumps, influenza, diphtheria typhoid hepatitis A cholera. Furthermore, Pakistan boasts one of the highest stunting rates worldwide with nearly 40% of children under five experiencing stunting as an ongoing health issue.

Pakistan, with a high burden of infectious disease, has not fully met global immunization targets for routine vaccines despite having one of the lowest vaccination rates among developed nations; consequently, Pakistan still suffers from high rates of hepatitis B and C infections and growing multidrug-resistant tuberculosis infections.

Recent extreme flooding has significantly disrupted immunization coverage and poses the potential risk of further decline, making vaccination a critical means to protecting against infectious diseases. To address this situation, CDC in collaboration with its partners in Pakistan conducted a One Health Zoonotic Disease Prioritization workshop to prioritize and develop action plans for priority zoonotic diseases like rabies, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, Salmonella and brucellosis; plans will then aim to maximize intersectoral benefits through intersectoral collaboration.

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Non-communicable diseases (NCDs)

Pakistan, like other developing countries, faces numerous public health problems, including inadequate healthcare infrastructure and financial insufficiently. In spite of these difficulties, Pakistan remains committed to strengthening its healthcare system and decreasing exposure of its citizens to infectious diseases.

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, one of the top 10 leading causes of death in Pakistan is cardiovascular disease (CVD). This category encompasses coronary artery disease, stroke, high blood pressure and smoking – caused by inactivity, unhealthy diet or smoking cessation – among others. Malnutrition, tuberculosis and mental illness also rank highly on this list of leading causes.

Pakistan needs to prioritize preventive healthcare, enhance its healthcare infrastructure and invest in education to address these issues and enhance citizens’ lives while decreasing non-communicable disease prevalence. These steps would greatly benefit all who reside there and reduce non-communicable disease prevalence rates.

Pakistan spends only 0.4% of its GDP on healthcare spending – significantly below WHO’s recommended amount of 6% for low-income countries. Furthermore, most funding is unequally distributed between urban and rural populations in Pakistan, making it difficult for low-income residents to access essential facilities.

The country is suffering from numerous healthcare issues, including an acute shortage of hospitals and doctors resulting in overcrowded healthcare facilities that often lack medication needed for life-saving purposes. Furthermore, lifesaving drugs remain scarce – leading to longer waits for care than expected for some patients.

While Pakistan is taking steps to address its health challenges, local communities and healthcare organizations can make an impactful difference through working collaboratively to focus on preventive healthcare, accessing quality medical services, investing in education and working toward eliminating its health challenges.

Recent studies revealed that only half of Punjab’s basic health units (BHUs) are equipped with adequate equipment to detect noncommunicable disease risk factors, affecting millions of individuals without providing them with appropriate medical attention. To address this problem, government must allocate more resources to BHUs and ensure they possess adequate equipment in order to detect these conditions.

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Mental health

Pakistan faces its share of mental health problems worldwide, yet is especially challenged in this area. Declining social and economic conditions have contributed to an increase in mental illness rates; flooding, COVID-19 pandemic, inability to afford basic needs have all taken their toll on people’s minds; this combined with limited awareness and stigma associated with mental illness makes seeking help extremely challenging for many individuals.

Pakistan’s mental healthcare landscape needs significant improvements. Due to a low psychiatrist-per-million ratio, many with mental illnesses remain undiagnosed and untreated; the situation becomes even more dire in rural areas due to a shortage of doctors specialized in mental health care; making treatment for depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) difficult to find.

Escaping from mental health stigmata is also difficult. People are more inclined to say they have headaches or stomachaches rather than disclose their mental health problems to others; as a result, many feel uncomfortable discussing or seeking treatment for mental health conditions. This has created an ongoing culture of silence surrounding this subject matter and many don’t feel safe talking about or seeking assistance for mental health concerns.

This taboo is compounded by the fact that most doctors do not possess adequate training to diagnose psychiatric disorders. Therefore, people in need of help aren’t receiving it due to a lack of resources; consequently leading to an increasing suicide rate.

As it is essential to remove stigma surrounding mental health and break down barriers to seeking treatment, one effective strategy for doing this is integrating mental healthcare into primary care – this should include providing training and support for family members of those diagnosed with mental illnesses as well as digital platforms and telehealth options so that anyone in Pakistan who needs it can access specialized care when needed – making sure all Pakistanis receive access to appropriate healthcare.

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Maternal and newborn health

Millions of young lives could be saved every year if mothers and babies had access to affordable, quality health care, good nutrition, and clean water in Pakistan; unfortunately these necessities remain out of reach for many women and children, leading them to premature birth, labor complications during delivery, infections such as sepsis pneumonia or meningitis as a result.

Pakistan’s high child and infant mortality rates can be attributed to multiple factors, including poverty and sanitation issues; the main culprits, however, being inadequate healthcare investments, inadequate breastfeeding practices, contaminated water supply and malnutrition. This situation could be addressed by increasing healthcare investments, providing infant vaccination against diarrhoea and pneumonia and providing equal access for prenatal care as well as skilled birth attendance for all mothers.

Although there may be several reasons for the poor maternal and newborn health outcomes observed at Thatta site, two Pakistani characteristics that exacerbated its disparate outcomes most significantly were low education levels and high parity. Over 80% of women at Thatta site were illiterate compared with 12.4% on average for all other sites; additionally there was an extremely high rate of severe anemia with significantly fewer deliveries by skilled providers compared with other sites.

Pakistan boasts the world’s highest maternal and newborn mortality rates in rural areas due to lower access to healthcare services for these women, who mainly work in agriculture. They may be undernourished and anemic as a result. Anemia can have a major influence on pregnancy outcomes as anemia increases morbidity and mortality during and post childbirth. To reduce these statistics, the government must be sensitive to rural women’s health crises by providing nutrition, healthcare access and contraceptives as needed. Doing this will enable it to meet global maternal and newborn health targets such as reducing maternal mortality to 12 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030 while neonatal and infant mortality drops below 70 deaths per 1000 births by this same date.