The health infrastructure in Pakistan is in a state of collapse today. Majority of the population does not have access to clean water. Infectious diseases are widespread and people are dying from treatable infections like gastroenteritis and tuberculosis, even in this day and age. Drug addiction, smoking, pollution as well as traffic accidents are increasing at an alarming pace.
70% of our population lives in villages and the poor may have to travel for 3-4 hours to reach a hospital, only to get a blood borne infection from either dirty syringes or surgical tools.
Just picture a young man who is suffering from heart attack with no ambulance, oxygen, ECG monitor, defibrillator or a doctor at hand. What are the chances of his survival?
The fundamental questions then arise: Why are things getting so out of control? Do we really care? Can we shrug off our responsibility? or is it that we simply do not have the ability? Are we waiting for someone else to clear the mess we are in? This may never happen!
It is a fact that resources are scarce but there also appears to be serious lack of will and necessary skills to tackle these health problems in a systematic way.
Every individual has the right to be treated by a qualified doctor with respect and understanding, in a sympathetic and honest way.
Prevention and control of disease need to be one of the highest priorities in maintaining a stable health system.
Everyone will agree that this is time for action rather than words but who will put the first step in right direction? Who has the determination to adhere to the right principles? Who has the motivation and persistence to finish the job right through to the end...?
The answer to all these questions is me, you and us - particularly those who have the ability and resources to make the difference. Let us get together and think ahead to bring about this change.
Let us bridge the gaps between us. Let us work together from one platform; after all we are a nuclear power!
Whilst we all strive and pray for the welfare of Pakistan, we should not forget that the United Kingdom is our adopted homeland. We should work hard to maintain the high standards of patient care and be part of the decision-making within the National Health Service (NHS) to shape a better health care system for the future generations in the UK.
May Allah guide us all. Ameen!
Dr Abdul Hafeez
23 December 2004