KARACHI May 24: Experts expressed grave concern over the deteriorating situation of health services in the country and stressed the health personnel and policymakers to implement the existing policies and laws to improve the situation.

Sharing his views at a launching ceremony of a book titled “Public Health Challenges in Pakistan” by Prof Zaki Hasan, former Vice Chancellor of Baqai Medical College and founding dean of the Jinnah Medical and Dental College on Wednesday, Arif Hasan, famous architect, said that the basic cause of diseases were poor water and sanitation conditions in the country.

He said 70 per cent of major water and sanitation projects in the country were either faulty or were unsustainable, which was a big wastage of public money.

Mr Hassan urged the establishment of institutes on the basis of good governance to implement health policies, as well as, monitor and face health challenges.

“Three main factors for the failure of health planning and services are lack of political process for consensus building, inner politics in institutes and ever-decreasing level of competency among health professional and policymakers,” he pointed out.

He said that it was good to study the research and experiences of other countries, but when it came to their implementation, the ground realities of our own country should be kept in mind.

He lauded the services of Dr Zaki for the uplift and development of healthcare field.

He also appreciated and welcomed his book, which highlights major problems and issues in Pakistan regarding health services.

Dr Siraj ul Haq Mahmud spoke on “Health Policy and Related Development in Pakistan”. He was dismayed at the too little funds being spent on the government on healthcare sector.

“Health has never been a priority of any government since independence, as evident from their allocation for this sector.”

He also highlighted the evolution of health plans starting from the pre-1947 era and thereafter.

He said that sustained stewardship and enhanced planning capacity was needed to address such a dark situation.

Dr Kausar S Khan in her presentation on “Social Determinants of Health” said that gender inequality, ever-rising poverty, resistance from stakeholders, political instability, and priorities of the elite were major factors, casting adverse affects on health development.

Dr N A Jafarey shed light on “Public Health and Medical Education: Some Challenges”.

He called for making the undergraduate medical curriculum relevant to the healthcare needs of the country rather that adopting it from a foreign country. He also laid stress on extending clinical training to tertiary hospitals and not confining them to medical colleges only.

He revealed that there were 113,206 doctors, 6,129 dentists and some 48,000 nurses in the country, and added that teamwork was required to achieve the goals for betterment of health services.

Talking on “Women Health”, Dr Sadiqua Jafarey highlighted various health periods of a woman including childhood, reproductive and maternal periods.

She said that there were 32 million women in the reproductive period in Pakistan and 60 per cent of them were illiterate.

“The fertility rate in the country is four per cent and about four to five million newborn babies are delivered every year. While a woman dies in the country after every 20 minutes and about 2,00,000 to 3,00,000 newborn babies die,” she added.

Mrs Aneesa Haroon speaking on “Human Rights in Health” said that contaminated water, inadequate transportation sources, unhygienic food items, road condition, dumping of industrial effluent, etc, were adding to the miseries of people in the country, especially those of Karachi.

Dr Haroon Ahmad talked about “Evolution of Psychiatry in Pakistan” and laid stress on the implementation of the mental health policy.

Dr Mussarat Hussain and Dr Tariq Suhail also spoke.—PPI