LAHORE: Adviser to Chief Minister on Health Khwaja Salman Rafique said on Wednesday that the government had been striving to upgrade the primary and secondary healthcare system.
He was speaking at a seminar organised at Mayo Hospital in connection with the World International Purple (Epilepsy) Day. Rafique said the Punjab Health Reforms Roadmap was being speedily implemented to ensure the provision of quality healthcare facilities to patients. He said the presence of doctors and availability of medicines was being ensured at health facilities. Rafique said medicines used to treat epilepsy would be included to the essential drugs list at DHQ and THQ hospitals in accordance with the recommendations of health experts.
Rafique said there would be a visible change in the primary and secondary healthcare system in the following months. He said a plan had been formulated to fill vacancies for specialists at DHQ and THQ hospitals. He said the chief minister would announce a lucrative remuneration package on this account soon. Rafique said the number of basic health units (BHUs) operating round-the-clock would soon increase to 700 from 150 under the 24/7 programme. He said this would also help in achieving the millennium development goals (MDGs).
Health Services Director General Zahid Pervaiz said the government would include epilepsy to the list of the Non-Communicable Disease Control Programme.
MS Amjad Shahzad said an epilepsy clinic would be established at the hospital.
Professor Fareed Ahmed of the King Edward Medical University (KEMU) said pharmaceutical companies were not keen on manufacturing epilepsy medicines due to their low profit ratio. He said it was due to this that only costly medicines for the disease were available in the market. Ahmed said 40 per cent of epilepsy patients had to take medicines throughout their lives. He stressed the need for establishing epilepsy centres across the province.
Dr Nasrullah said iconic figures such as Aristotle, Alexander the Great and Isaac Newton had suffered from the disease. He said cricketer Jonty Rhodes was also an epilepsy patient. Nasrullah said two million Pakistanis suffered from the disease. He said most of them lived in rural areas. Nasrullah said epilepsy was a curable disease that had become tainted due to its association with superstition in the nation. He said it was due to this that many people tended to take epilepsy patients to spiritual healers instead of doctors for treatment. Nasrullah stressed the need to raise public awareness regarding epilepsy.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2015.