The initiative, Polcare, for Lahore’s police force to undergo regular health monitoring after the age of 40 is a pertinent idea. A mandatory screening twice a year is even more ambitious as typically, health check-ups are recommended once a year. There are still some unanswered questions as to where this funding will ultimately come from, but since the incidence of heart disease has been found to occur at an epidemic rate with a high prevalence of 41 per cent of policemen deaths occurring due to heart attack, this may be a wise use of funding. Otherwise, practically, replacement officers continuously have to be hired and trained, which also drains resources. Furthermore, in the nature of a policeman’s job, especially in Pakistan’s provinces with their shoddy law and order situations, stress levels are high. If this is the case with Lahore’s police force, one proposes that a similar health policy should quickly be adopted for Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces since they have an even more fragile security situation.
Allegedly infamous for perpetuating the bribery culture, police officers typically earn meagre salaries so healthcare is perhaps never a priority. There is also the angle of poor diet and misconceptions when it comes to heart health. Meat and dairy consumption, both sources of high fat content, is possibly greater in Punjab and its major city Lahore than in any other province. Thus, along with the establishment of an interventional health plan to catch problems early on, health authorities should consider spreading awareness among younger officers. By the age of 40, significant damage may have already been done.
Health is an underserved area and most services are interventional rather than preventative. In order to reduce the health burden, health departments should promote the idea of annual health screenings for police and government employees, such as many private sector organisations do. This would have a positive impact on financial resources, such as for medical treatment and hiring and training of new employees.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2018.
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