Too many people seek medical advice during the second or third stages of cancer, according to Prof Ahmed Usman of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre in response to a WHO report about a sharp increase in non-communicable diseases every year.
The WHO published its Global Status Report on Non-Communicable Diseases 2010 in April this year and it shows a daunting state of health especially in developing countries such as Pakistan. Prof Usman urged the authorities to promote anti-tobacco campaigns and healthier diets, highlighting the significance of physical activities and ensuring people’s access to essential healthcare.
He is not the only health expert to urge the government to organise nation-wide campaigns against non-communicable diseases that are the leading cause of deaths in the country, according to the WHO. NCDs include cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
National Institute of Diabetes and Endocrinology (NIDE) Director Prof Zaman Sheikh said about a year and a half ago, a meeting was held in Islamabad under the health director-general when NCDs were discussed but concrete measures have not been taken yet. The report points out, for example, that in Pakistan, the transmission of the hepatitis C virus has not stopped mainly because of unsafe transfusions and the use or sharing of contaminated needles.
NCD deaths are projected to increase by 15% globally between 2010 and 2020 (to 44 million deaths). The greatest increases will be in the WHO regions of Africa, South-East Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean, where they will increase by over 20%. In contrast, in the European Region, WHO estimates there will be no increase. In the African Region, NCDs will cause around 3.9 million deaths by 2020. The Global Status Report stresses the need for a more forceful response to the growing threat posed by chronic NCDs. It provides a baseline to chart future NCD trends and responses in countries, especially in terms of socio-economic impacts. The report provides advice and recommendations for all countries and pays special attention to developing countries that are hit the hardest.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2011.
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