Being an underdeveloped country, health has always been an issue for Pakistan. Rural to urban segregation along with the irregular distribution of health funds make it difficult to maintain a uniform health standard here. Providing health facilities to a growing population of over 196 million is not easy. The situation is made even worse by the fact that the country faces some unfavorable climatic conditions and has made very little developments in health, education, and finance sector in all these years. The result being that people here suffer from common diseases which are otherwise easily controllable in the rest of the world with some precautions and safety measures. So, which are the most common diseases affecting the health of the people in Pakistan today? Let’s take a look.
Diseases that come from Mosquitoes
Malaria, dengue, Chikungunya and yellow fever have become fairly common in Pakistan for the past few years. These mosquito-borne diseases vary in their symptoms which can get severe at times too.
Dengue: Dengue fever has become more of an epidemic which has affected the whole country for quite some time now. Responsible for the deaths of thousands of people since it first came into the country in 2010, dengue fever is a viral infection which causes a sudden onset of headaches, fever and extreme weakness in the patient. It can produce hemorrhage and may grow to be lethal as well if not treated on time.
Malaria: Symptoms of malaria include severe chills with high fever and sweating. The disease is transmitted through a female mosquito which is a carrier for the parasite, Plasmodium. The parasite lives and divides in the liver cells and tends to affect the red blood cells the most causing severe anemia in the patients. It can cause death too if it goes untreated as the disease has the ability of affecting the vital organs by limiting their blood supply.
Chikungunya: It is another viral infection that spreads due to mosquitoes in the urban environments. It has symptoms which are similar to dengue fever and causes severe joint pain as well. However, the symptoms can take a few days to show up after the person has been bitten by the infected mosquito. The virus takes over 7 to 10 days to complete its cycle and in severe cases can cause permanent arthritis too. So far over 1000 cases have been reported for the Chikungunya virus in the country and the number keeps growing as the climatic changes become harsher and more favorable for the mosquito population.
Yellow Fever: It is perhaps the deadliest viral disease which is caused due to mosquitoes. The symptoms of yellow fever range from respiratory infections to hemorrhage at times. Vaccinations for the disease are available in the country but with many people opting out of vaccination programs, the disease has become common once again.
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With little work being done to help eradicate the increasing pollution in the country, the heart disease, Ischemic, is becoming common in Pakistan in recent years. Apart from a constant exposure to harmful pollutants, unavailability of proper sanitation systems and the unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits is making this disease so common. It is estimated that 410 people out of every 100,000 lose their lives due to CHD in Pakistan every year, which is extremely high considering the rest of the world.
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Diseases of Respiratory system
Asthma, influenza, pneumonia, and bronchitis are some of the most common respiratory diseases in Pakistan. Since the country is densely populated, it is easy for the infections to spread and affect a large part of the population at any given time. This makes it difficult to control and contain the health situation in case of an epidemic. Moreover, the poor cleanliness standards and high pollution in the country does nothing to keep the situation under control.
Lack of nutritional and health knowledge leads to people eating foods that are dripping with fats and have high-sugar content. It is the leading cause of high cholesterol and sugar levels in people. It has been estimated that over 7 million people in Pakistan are suffering from Diabetes, making it a country with the highest rate of diabetes in the South Asia.
Hepatitis A and E
This form of hepatitis spreads through water and unhealthy contaminated food. Since the hygiene conditions are not up to the mark, hepatitis is becoming increasingly common in Pakistan. Apart from this, the digestive infections such as food poisoning, diarrhea, and stomach flu are common in the country too due to the very same reasons. The symptoms of Hepatitis A include fever, diarrhea, and jaundice and it affects the functionality of liver while that of Hepatitis E are similar too with it affecting the urinary tract as it progresses in the body.
These are just some of the many common diseases which are seen in Pakistan in the recent years. Most of these diseases are easily controllable but due to the lack of hospitals and health facilities available, they have grown in severity and complexities over the years. Serious health reforms and changes are required in the health sector to improve the quality of lives of people here.
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