off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

Healthcare in rural
areas of Pakistan

Despite the fact that the government has established a network of Dispensaries, Basic Health Units, and Rural Health Centers in the rural areas but the healthcare here still leaves much to be desired. Health education needs to be given due importance to create an awareness among the masses to spend and invest in their healthcare as well instead of looking for free healthcare all the time.

It is generally believed that the rural population even those among them who can afford are inclined to get free drugs from the healthcare facilities in the public sector. Last month as an annual feature, we had a day long Medical Camp in a village near Burewala in District Vehari. We had five doctors, two physicians, one endocrinologist, one surgeon and one gynecologist who all combined examined and managed two hundred three patients which included male female and children. They were all provided free drugs for at least two weeks while a few were also given advice, referred to other consultants in the city. They were advised to take their disease seriously and do not delay consulting the respective specialists for further management of their disease.

A vast majority of the patients attending the camp were suffering from hypertension, diabetes mellitus, joint pain, COPD, Hepatitis while a few were also suffering from chronic rheumatic diseases, tuberculosis, infertility, PCOS, Thyroid disorders, short stature, allergies, skin diseases etc. Delay in starting insulin therapy, sub-optimal use of insulin, improper storage of insulin, non-compliance with drug therapy were seen quite common. Some of the patients who were suffering from high blood pressure as well as diabetes had failed to control their blood pressure as well as blood glucose simply because they failed to adhere to therapy though they were diagnosed cases. High cost of drugs was mentioned as one of the reasons. A few patients with very high blood pressure and diabetes were high risk of suffering from serious complications including stroke but they were still taking it lightly. Preventive measures were all disregarded and they continue to smoke whether it is cigarettes of Hookah.

The occasion was used to impart them health education, emphasizing upon them to take their health issues seriously, consult the doctors in time as early diagnosis ensures better outcome and timely management of their diseases. The government needs to concentrate more on education because that is the key to future development. Schools in rural areas need proper attention of the authorities and the teachers should be encouraged, motivated. The teachers in the local Higher Secondary School as well as the Government Girls School were found quite motivated. A little appreciation and encouragement can work wonders. If people of the area and well to do people in the villages also extend some help and assistance to the schools located in their respective areas, a lot more can be accomplished. Let us not wait and expect the Government to do everything, we as responsible citizens of this country also have some responsibilities which we all much discharge willingly to ensure an educated, healthy Nation.

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