Establishing more hospitals and Institutes Won’t solve our problem-Anjum Jalal


 Reducing the disease burden

Establishing more hospitals and Institutes
Won’t solve our problem-Anjum Jalal

Healthy eating habits, regular exercise can protect
people from numerous diseases

FAISALABAD: One of the most important and excellent talk on preventive cardiology during the Pakistan Hypertension League’s symposium held here from February 23-25th 2018 was delivered not by a cardiologist but a renowned cardiac surgeon Prof. Anjum Jalal, Executive Director of Faisalabad Institute of Cardiology. Speaking on “Good Ones and the Bad Ones: The story of healthy Eating” he narrated his family history to convey the message to the attentive audience and did it exceptionally well since he has mastered the art of communication skills. He pointed out that establishing more hospitals and specialty Institutes is not going to solve our problem of reducing the disease burden. On the other hand, just ensuring that people develop healthy eating habits and do regular exercise will protect them from numerous diseases including heart diseases.

Prof. Anjum Jalal
Chief Executive
Faisalabad Institute of Cardiology

People in general and the more educated in particular were ignorant about healthy eating habits. Patients are not getting better despite treatment; they doubt the intentions of the healthcare professionals. Medical profession on the whole has been a failure, he remarked. During the last one year we at FIC have performed over seven thousand angiographies, sixteen hundred PCIs including more than thirteen hundred open heart surgeries and examined over four lac thirty four thousand patients in the Out Patients Department. However, all this has not helped to reduce the patient workload. During the last twenty five months working at Faisalabad Institute of Cardiology I have learnt the lesson that we are not on the right path and cannot solve our health problems unless we change our strategies. People on the whole have given up exercise and we need to convey our message effectively to the target audience.

Sharing his family history Prof.Anjum Jalal said that people in his family used to die at 40-45 years of age. My father was a scientist and an intelligent person. He thought of some new strategy which was implemented.  We started taking healthy diet, did regular exercise, avoided fats, meat, beef, started using vegetables and increased the use of fruit. Now my parents are in their 70s and 80s. None of them have ever developed high blood pressure or diabetes. They are living a healthy life. Benefitting from their experience I and my wife decided twenty years ago that we will not eat meat, beef, became vegetarian, and started using more fruits. We heard all sort of accusations, some of our relatives said that as if we have changed our religion. When guests came to our house, their children were disappointed to find that we did not have cold drinks, chocolates in our Fridge. We served the guests with vegetables which at times they not like.

He then showed slides of Fridge of certain houses which were all full of Pizzas, Ice Cream, Butter, Chocolates, milk and cream but in the same Fridge one of the sections was also full of all sort of medicines which they were taking for different diseases they were suffering from. At the same time the Fridge of those families who did not take all these things, had vegetables, fruits but they also did not have any medicines in their Fridge except some pain killers at home. Those who use healthy diet and do regular exercise also save lot of money as they do not have to buy drugs or visit doctors, hospitals and pay their fees, he added.

Continuing Prof. Anjum Jalal said, look at our kids, most of them are overweight, obese. They love junk food like Burgers, Pizzas, and sugary drinks. People at large suffer from hypertension, diabetes and both these diseases have now become an epidemic in Pakistan. There are no playgrounds in most of the schools established in residential area, no jogging tracks in parks which are also disappearing gradually or are not well maintained. To avoid disease, one must use healthy diet, wake up early in the morning, sleep well and in time, increase use of vegetables, fruits which are very cheap and available in abundance in Pakistan, reduce fat intake, and avoid smoking. All these are achievable. Smoking leads to hypertension and is a serious risk factor for heart diseases.  Exercise will also reduce LDL, increase HDL, reduce TGs, reduce weight and help overcoming obesity. All the known risk factors lead to increased morbidity and mortality. Currently we are passing through a phase of denial   and if we fail to learn any lesson it will be too late, Prof. Anjum Jalal remarked.

While on one hand one would like to appreciate the presentation by Prof.Anjum Jalal who spoke his heart out, it is also important to commend chief organizer of the symposium Prof. Ahmad Bilal who spotted and selected a cardiac surgeon for such an important talk.  Addressing the audience Prof. Ahmad Bilal said that we can do exercise all the time. He also disclosed that they organize health talks and awareness sessions at various organizations and institutions in the city. Once they had a chance to talk to the employees working at National Institute of Biomedical and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE) and their chief was impressed. He immediately decided and built a jogging/walking track at the campus which was being used by the employees whenever they get time, in the morning or in the evening. This simple intervention, he disclosed, has reduced their medical bill by almost 50%. The employees do not fall sick, remain healthy, do not need drugs and it has also reduced their visits to hospitals and hospitalization. All this had played a key role in reducing their medical budget, he remarked. He also invited the wife of the NIBGE Chief Executive to the dais who was sitting among the audience and another representative from NIBGE to the stage and thanked them and their Executive Director for showing an understanding.  All these things, Prof. Ahmad Bilal opined are easily doable and we can introduce these simple measures at our homes, in the society and the country at large which will certainly prove more rewarding in reducing the disease burden as compared to the provision of curative services which are not only expensive but we also cannot afford to provide it to the entire population, he added.