KARACHI: If people read, write and exercise regularly, they can prevent risk of brain-related diseases, revealed neurological experts on Monday.
These experts shared that neurological diseases are on the rise in Pakistan. "The stroke is the second fatal disease after heart attacks," said Prof Wasay Shakir, the president of the Pakistan Society of Neurology (PSN). "Pakistan has more than 20 million people with brain-related diseases and this number is more than of heart and cancer patients."
At the press conference held at Karachi Press Club to mark World Brain Day on Monday, Prof Shakir also shared that there is no exact data available in the country but it is estimated that 250 out of 100,000 people suffer a stroke. "Nearly 350,000 people are being reported every year," he added.
The head of the neurology department of Baqai University, Dr Arif Herekar, said that prevention is better. "Motorcyclists don't use helmets and get traumatic brain injuries," he pointed out. He also said that due to poverty and stress, the diets of most people is not up to the standard.
Dr Abdul Malik, another neurologist and the general secretary of the PSN, stressed that the use of tobacco and non-smoking tobacco, including ghutka, mainpurri, should be restrained. The government is not taking appropriate measures, especially to deal with strokes. About 21.8 per cent cases of stroke are being reported in Karachi.
"Pakistan is the sixth largest country in terms of population and the major reason behind strokes is economic conditions."
Sharing the number of patients with Parkinson's disease, Prof Shakir said that it is about four million among people who are older than 60 years.
"The treatment and prevention of all brain-related diseases are available but the number of patients is increasing due to limited resources and late confirmation of the diseases," Prof Shakir informed.
According to the neurologists, Pakistan has only 170 neurologists. This number is much less compared to its overall population. About 75 per cent of public hospitals, medical colleges and universities and 95 per cent of district hospitals do not have a single neurologist, the speakers informed. They said that 10 to 20 neurologists are being produced in Pakistan every year but half of them leave the country due to good salary packages and better working environments elsewhere.
"The government hasn't realised the seriousness of the diseases yet, therefore, it hasn't taken any measures," said Prof Shakir. "The treatment is really expensive but the government can promote prevention measures and awareness drives," he suggested.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2014.