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‘National Action Plan on non-communicable diseases on cards’

November 09, 2021
‘National Action Plan on non-communicable diseases on cards’

KARACHI: Conceding that the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) is growing in the country due to ‘lack of focus’ in the past, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan on Monday said a National Action Plan is almost ready to deal with the ‘epidemic of diabetes’ and endocrine diseases, mental health, trauma and cancer.

“There is a not doubt that we are facing an epidemic of diabetes and urgency is required to deal with it along with other NCDs, so a National Action Plan is required to set a direction to deal with four major areas, including diabetes and endocrine diseases, mental health, trauma and cancer.

This document would help our followers to deal with these diseases in the years to come,” he said while speaking at a national dialogue on epidemic of diabetes in Karachi. The national dialogue in connection with the World Diabetes Day 2021 was organised by the Pakistan Society for Awareness and Community Empowerment (PACE) in collaboration with Discovering Diabetes project and it was addressed by senior diabetologists and endocrinologists, government officials and experts from the private sector.

Sultan maintained that national health services was in talks with federal education ministry to include some clear, basic and non-controversial health messages in the single national curriculum. Health messages regarding dental care to physical activity, what we need to eat, hazards of tobacco, smoking and drug use would be included in the curriculum to prevent children from many preventable health conditions. “Single national curriculum can be an effective tool to convey the health messages to our children and they can be sensitized from dental care to importance of physical activity, healthy diet, hazards of tobacco, smoking and drug abuse,” he said, adding that in this way, at least, the younger generation could be prevented from many future ailments.

He maintained that they were also trying to introduce a ‘health contribution bill’ to collect more funds from the sugar-sweetened beverages and tobacco industries for spending on health and claimed that ‘despite being pushed back from one side’, they were trying from the other side to make them pay for this ‘contribution’ in form of taxes for spending on health.

Lauding the Discovering Diabetes Project and launch of a helpline to identify and track the undiagnosed diabetics, the SAPM on health said health messages conveyed through caller tunes proved to be another effective tool to convey health and awareness messages and added that they could tag the discovering diabetes helpline in the caller tune for diabetes awareness.Commenting on the growing cost of diabetes care in Pakistan, he said the healthcare cost could not be brought down until and unless treatment remedies and diagnostic equipments are manufactured domestically and claimed that they have established special technology zone over hundreds of acres of land of National Institute of Health (NIH) to fetch investments in healthcare technologies being imported to lower their costs. The SAPM said they were also launching a pilot project comprising some interventions which include prevention and early detection of diabetes in Islamabad and added that they were trying to arrange finance to launch this primary healthcare project in all the provinces simultaneously.

Diabetologist and Director Baqai Institute of Diabetology and Endocrinology (BIDE) Prof. Abdul Basit said they were collaborating with all provincial governments for standardization of diabetic healthcare and asked the SAPM to enhance taxes on sugar sweetened beverages to collect more money, which could be used to increase spending on healthcare, especially on prevention and treatment of diabetes. Consultant Endocrinologist Prof. Emrita Dr. Tasneem Ahsan called for promoting healthy lifestyle and importance of balanced diet among children and added Pakistan could not afford to treat millions of people living with diabetes, and other non-communicable diseases, whose burden was doubling after every few years.

Director Health Services Karachi Dr. Akram Sultan, Consultant Endocrinologist and pioneer member of Pakistan Endocrine Society (PES) Prof. Tasneem Ahsan, Discovering Diabetes Project manager Agha Sadiq, Vice Chancellor of Dow University Prof. Saeed Qurasihy, Executive Director JPMC Dr. Shahid Rasool, renowned psychiatrist Prof. Iqbal Afridi, PMA Secretary General Dr. Qaiser Sajjad and others also spoke.

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