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Balochistan’s missing healthcare system and future hopes

Balochistan is one of the worst places for children in the world. They routinely die from preventable diseases, such as hepatitis, malaria and measles. The rate of children dying during childhood is also high due to lack of proper healthcare facilities. It’s almost as though people here are living in the stone age.

Momin Manzoor

Cancer is taking what it can in Balochistan. Be it adults or children, everyone is dying because of the terrible healthcare system.

Balochistan is one of the worst places for children in the world. They routinely die from preventable diseases, such as hepatitis, malaria, measles, etc. The rate of children dying during childhood is also high due to lack of proper healthcare facilities. It’s almost as though people here are living in the stone ages.

Despite being the largest and most resource-rich province, Balochistan doesn’t have a single cancer hospital. Women are the worst sufferers, facing many different forms of cancers. Statistics show that one in eight women is a victim. Given that health facilities are so scarce, the situation forces patients to travel to other provinces for treatment.

Health falls under the jurisdiction of the provinces. Sadly, the leadership of this province has only ever made petty promises and not delivered. The last chief minister promised the construction of a cancer hospital here, but nothing practical was done to achieve the same. Politicians are only concerned about getting their hands on more “fortune”. They do not care about the plight of the people and do nothing to improve their lives. On the other hand, people have started turning to social media to highlight their plight and appeal to the masses for donations.

In 2016, a teenage boy called Rehan Rind was diagnosed with leukaemia. He made a persuasive appeal on social media once his health took an ugly turn. It was his words that pushed people to fight for a cancer hospital.

The economic burden of cancer treatment is extremely high when compared to other diseases, with the cost of a single hospitalisation exceeding the average annual per capita expenditure of more than 70 percent of the population

Rehan’s life was cut short unnecessarily. He has become an inspiring icon. His death sparked outrage on social media because people do not want to lose more young people to cancer. The role of civil society and media is undeniable.

The government now needs to act and give relief to the people. They are living with a limited budget and cannot afford cancer treatment, which is extremely costly. Furthermore, patients often need to visit hospitals very frequently. The economic burden of cancer treatment is extremely high when compared to other diseases, with the cost of a single hospitalisation exceeding the average annual per capita expenditure of more than 70 percent of the population.  The provincial government needs to take steps to show sincerity for these people. Otherwise their catastrophic medical expenses will push them deeper into unthinkable poverty.

Medical practitioners are of the view that there is a lot of stuff that needs to be addressed when it comes to the growing menace of concern. An urgent and comprehensive approach is needed, with an emphasis on prevention, timely diagnosis and effective treatment.

If this is not possible, then the doctors and healthcare workers part of the equation should be equipped with enough knowledge that they are able to help patients, through early diagnoses and detection.

Peter Drucker says that unless commitment is made, there are promises and hopes… but no plans. In Balochistan, this can be practically seen through the useless leaders that do not deliver on any of the promises they male. They seem unaware of the morbidity and mortality caused by cancer.

The new government will be putting their right person forward on August 14. A lot of hopes on pinned on this government, and people are waiting to see what change it can earnestly bring. There is a lot of hope indeed, and it is high time that our leaders stop being oblivious to Balochistan’s needs.

The writer can be reached at mominali38@gmail.com

Published in Daily Times, August 13th 2018.

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