Top 10 health problems in Pakistan

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The increasing rate of health problems in Pakistan is alarming but what’s more alarming is the lack of healthcare systems. The lack of a proper healthcare system makes a country and its population more susceptible to various diseases.

Although certain illnesses are prevalent worldwide, developed countries have the resources and systems to combat those diseases. In other countries, a disease brings better healthcare strategies and improved researches. But Pakistan, due to lack of resources and proper management is left with the disease and its rapid rise only. Pakistan being among the only three countries with the uninterrupted transmission of the poliovirus shows the lack of effective healthcare strategies.

Factors like poor living conditions, lack of efficient healthcare, lack of diagnosis, and lack of awareness marry to give rise to several health problems in Pakistan

Common health problems in Pakistan

The most common and serious health problems in Pakistan are

1. Malaria

Malaria is caused by the biting of a mosquito, that breeds on unclean water. Due to the large population living in slums, the prevalence of malaria is not surprising. If not treated well, malaria can be fatal. As people living in slums are usually illiterate and lack awareness they go for un-prescribed medications to treat their illness. This has given rise to drug-resistant malaria. The estimated number of annual malaria cases in Pakistan is 1.5 million, according to a report in 2014.

2. Tuberculosis

Being the cause of death for 5% of the Pakistani population, tuberculosis stands among the most common health issues in Pakistan. According to a report by the World Health Organization Pakistan stands among the top 5 countries that are highly prone to tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis is transmitted through infected water particles from a cough or sneeze. If not properly treated tuberculosis can be deadly.

3. Dengue fever

Despite its late birth in 2010, dengue fever has infected many residents. From July 2019 to early November 2019, 47,120 infected cases with 75 deaths were confirmed in Pakistan, according to WHO. Even in 2020 a large number of dengue fever cases have been reported.

Dengue fever is caused by a bite from a specific mosquito which leads to fever, weakness, and severe headache. The severity of symptoms depends on the stage of the disease and if not treated in time it can cause death.

4. Hepatitis

All forms of viral hepatitis are common in Pakistan. According to the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention), 5-6% of the Pakistani population suffers from hepatitis C.

As, hepatitis B and C are transmitted through infected blood transfusions, and the use of infected syringes, the poor healthcare system of Pakistan is responsible for these. Hepatitis A and E are also very prevalent. These are caused by contaminated food and unclean water, people living in slums and poor condition are more prone to it.

5. Diabetes

Diabetes is common across the globe, but in Pakistan, it is at a surge the prevalence of diabetes in Pakistan has reached 17.1%. This is 148% higher than the previous report. According to reports in 2019, about 19 million of the population in Pakistan is living with diabetes.

Due to the lack of awareness and availability of healthy foods and medications, many people fail to control their diabetes. Diabetes can cause various health complications. Diabetes causes 3.18% of annual deaths, either directly or indirectly.

6. Cancer

In Pakistan cancer is responsible for about 8% of deaths annually. The lack of awareness regarding a healthy lifestyle is one of the major causes of the increasing rates of cancer. The most common types of cancer prevalent in Pakistan are breast cancer and lung cancer.

Pakistan has the highest incidence of Breast Cancer in Asia. An estimate suggests that 1 in 10 women may develop Breast Cancer in their lifetime. Cancer is fatal but good healthcare can prolong a patient’s life. The lack of proper healthcare facilities in Pakistan is the reason for greater deaths due to cancer.

7. Ischemic Heart Disease / Coronary heart disease

Ischemic heart disease accounts for 12.22% of annual deaths in Pakistan. It is characterized by a narrowed heart (coronary) arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. Smoking, obesity, and raised blood pressure are the major risk factors, all of these are very common in Pakistan.

Like other diseases, heart disease owes its existence to a poor lifestyle and lack of awareness. the prevalence of such diseases can be drastically reduced through public health awareness campaigns and easy access to healthcare facilities.

8. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease. The common symptoms are; coughing, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, and sputum production. COPD alone accounts for 4.18% of deaths in Pakistan.
The usual cause of COPD is long-term exposure to airways and lung irritants. The increasing pollution and poor air quality are among the major causes of COPD.

9. Stroke

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), 7.03% of people in Pakistan die of stroke. Almost 350,000 cases of stroke are reported each year. The two basic causes of stroke are ischemia(loss of blood supply) and hemorrhage. These in turn are influenced by trauma, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, and obesity.

10. Maternal and neonatal health issues

Maternal health is a serious issue in Pakistan. With women being underprivileged and the taboo revolving around certain women related health issues, has left women on their own. The poor health of a woman translates to the poor health of her infant.

The lack of proper healthcare facilities in rural and other backward areas is the leading cause of diseases related to women and their newborns. This lack of attention towards infant health is the cause of neonatal disorders being responsible for 16.67% of total deaths.

All of these issues are directly related to poor healthcare in Pakistan. The major causes of poor health facilities in Pakistan are lack of resources, lack of research, lack of awareness, and poor planning by the government. Its high time that the governing bodies focus on providing better healthcare facilities to the people so common diseases like these can be controlled.

If you want to look after your health, it’s time for you to consult a doctor and get yourself on the path to better health.

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Hiba Batool

Hiba Batool

She is a nutrition graduate from Kinnaird College, Lahore. She is a nutritionist by profession. Her interests lie in medical research and writing. She masters in all topics related to nutrition and health.

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