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CANCER THREAT TO PAKISTAN

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By :Nusrat Haris

Cancer poses an emerging and potentially significant health burden in Pakistan and it is expected that this burden will increase in the times to come due to growth and aging of the population, and because of adopting such behaviors and lifestyle factors which leads to cancer.

An increased frequency of cancers of breast, lip and oral cavity, lung, non-hodgkin lymphoma, colorectum, cervix uteri, esophagus and bladder are experienced in Pakistan. It is predicted that by 2030, the number of new cancer cases over the globe will mount to 21.7 million and 13 million sufferers of cancer will die owing to the growth and aging of the population.

It is estimated that in future the burden of cancer will markedly rise due to the lifestyle adoption which are linked with increased risk of cancer i.e. smoking, physical inactivity, improper diet etc.

The burden of cancers can be prevented in Pakistan to a larger extent by promoting knowledge related to cancer control, comprising of tobacco control, timely detection, vaccination, and encouraging physical activity and healthy dietary patterns.

Appropriate therapy and palliative care may preclude additional suffering and premature death due to cancer. In order to eradicate the evil burden of cancer, a harmonized and intensified response is required from every segment of society, including contribution from governments, private sector, civil society and the individuals as well. Cancer care in Pakistan is in developmental phase facing many obstacles.

The major challenges are huge cancer burden, shortage of trained manpower, lack of training opportunities, absence of infrastructure, Unawareness, advanced stage presentation, and lower spending on cancer prevention and treatment. In spite of all these, shortcomings, society has been supportive and helpful in terms of both psychosocial help and financial contribution.

Increased government spending and enhanced collaboration between the public, private, and charitable organizations is essential for comprehensive cancer control program in Pakistan.

Whatever facility is available for cancer treatment comes through private hospitals as government hospitals lack equipment and certain facilities are abandoned or disputed but if we combine the facilities and provisions of private and government health institutions that would still be insufficient to cater the needs of our people ,therefore, witnessing the major developments and reputation built of the institution people expect Gambat Institute of medical sciences (GIMS) to come up with their own cancer treatment center with new and equipped system as the hospital has proven to bring in treatment that could align with the world’s best health systems .

Few hospitals has been providing treatment and being helpful for patients and their families by sponsoring the process to a certain extent but there also its not completely free and the financial burden of the treatment is cruel besides the disease itself.

There is this ultra-new technology called the Proton Beam Therapy which is not yet available in SAARC region, this treatment removes the disease in considerable very less time and without going through the side effects of losing the hair and other pains.

Dr Rahim Buksh Bhatti has always brought light to the nation in terms of the health department in Pakistan and his vision to bring about Proton beam therapy for the poor patients could create tremendous impact on the lives of people . After liver transplantation success at GIMS the initiation of cancer treatment would not only provide the necessary resolve against this deadliest disease but would also bring credit to Pakistan for this tremendous effort as we saw in case of liver , kidney and cornea transplants under the supervision of Dr. Bhatti .

Sindh government could create this difference and could make the lives of the natives easier by considering the thought and supporting it whole heartedly, the economic conditions and challenges of the people specially at the interior parts of the country could be minimized to a greater extent by introducing something of this sort as cancer patients are increasing over the globe and in Pakistan the number needs to be addressed as soon as possible.. 

(The writer is a PTV morning show host)

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