In Pakistan, 54% of the men and 20% of the women use different forms of tobacco, while 90% of the population consumes less than two servings of vegetables per day.
Coupled with limited physical exercise, these unhealthy behaviors can lead to serious diseases such as hypertension and cancers, medical experts said in connection with the World Health Day being observed on Saturday (today).
Crippled by meagre resources for health and near absence of geriatric health requirements, Pakistan will be further challenged in taking care of the increasingly aging population.
World Health Day is celebrated on April 7 to commemorate the establishment of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1948. Each year a different topic is selected to seek international attention and focus on a priority concern with global impact and significant long term consequences.
This year’s World Health Day is dedicated to ageing and health with the motto ‘Good Health Adds Life to Years.’
According to WHO experts, the theme intends to convey the important message that good health throughout life will enable older men and women to lead full productive lives and continue to be a valuable presence for their families and communities.
At present, 4.2% of the total population in Pakistan is over 65 years of age and there is a likelihood that the figure would double by 2025. Similarly, the current life expectancy of 65.99 years will reach about 72 years by 2023, WHO statistics show.
“There are some medical and psychosocial aspects exclusive to the older population; however, the predominant health conditions increasingly suffered by the elderly relate to the higher disease burden including hypertension (36% in elderly), diabetes, musculoskeletal problems, disabilities and cancers; along with significant infectious diseases.
Likewise, 60% deaths due to diabetes, 59% due to cardio-vascular diseases and 29% due to cancers occur among old people above 60 years,” said WHO Representative in Pakistan Dr Guido Sabatinelli.
Simple preventive measures and healthy lifestyle changes can save hundreds of lives, prevent disability and improve the quality of life of old people, he added.
“The theme of the World Health Day signifies that a productive dignified existence is possible in old age, provided a healthy lifestyle is adopted throughout life,” he maintained.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2012.