KARACHI, April 6: Speakers at 15th International Healthcare Conference on Thursday said health sector all over the world was in crisis and even developed countries were facing acute shortage of healthcare personnel including paramedics, medical educators and trainers.

The conference with theme “Working together for health” was organized by the Hamdard Foundation Pakistan in collaboration with the World Health Organization to mark the World Health Day on April 6.

Prof Dr S. Tipu Sultan, Dean Faculty of Anaesthesia College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan, said that no country could survive in the world without provision of healthcare facilities.

He said the country’s health indicators were poorer as people did not have access to potable water, proper sanitation system based on hygienic standards, basic health facilities, adding that Pakistan was bearing high mortality rate among women and children.

The situation of health sector in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries was grim, he said.

Dr Tipu Sultan said health workers including paramedics, lab technicians, nurses and midwives should be produced for betterment of health sector and to facilitate general public, adding that health sector in the country could not improve by producing only doctors.

Criticizing the government for not spending required budget in health and education sectors, he said: “I believe that less than 0.7 per cent of the (country’s) total GDP is being spent on healthcare, while Saudi Arabia spends 10 per cent and Sri Lanka seven per cent”.

Coming up with solutions to cope with chronic problems of health and education sectors, Dr Sultan said that budget for improvement of health and education must be increased to at least six and 12 per cents, respectively, and government should cut non-developmental expenditures.

Dr Khalif Bailey Muhammad, WHO representative in Pakistan, said that the WHO had dedicated next 10 years for improvement of health sector all over the world.

He said that the WHO’s aim was to minimize high mortality rate among women and children, provide clean and safe environment, well-equipped and well-trained medical professionals. He said that the WHO wanted adequate doctors and paramedics in each district of Pakistan to ensure better healthcare facilities to people.

Dr Khalif called upon students to fight against smoking and tobacco for protection of environment and promotion of health. He also advised them to refrain from eating junk food which, he said, was major cause of obesity that increased risk of cardiac diseases. Sadia Rashid, President Hamdard Foundation Pakistan, also spoke.

In connection with the World Health Day, the Aga Khan University organized a seminar titled “Family medicine for all”.

Dr Seema Ameen Mohammad, a consultant of family medicine, said that almost one third people in the country were hypertensive. She said that Pakistani children had higher mean blood pressure as compared to the rest of the world.

Dr Bader Sabir Ali of family medicine department revealed that two third of the 360 million people suffering from depression worldwide lived in developing countries.

She referred to a prevalence study done in Qayumabad, where 30 percent of women were found suffering from depression and every fourth person coming for a consultation was suffering from some kind of depression.

AKU Family Medicine Department chairman Prof Riaz Qureshi highlighted direct as well as indirect health hazards faced by physicians during their professional duties. Dr Marie Andrades and Dr Raheem Dhanani also spoke on the occasion. -–PPI/APP