While speaking to the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia, Nawaf Saeed Al Malkiy, Health Minister Dr. Nadeem Jan announced that Pakistan is planning on organising a global health security summit. The objective is to display the country’s capacity to lead an international health agenda, and incorporate issues of pandemic preparedness and response vaccine equity issues. Keeping in mind the countless sacrifices that our medical community made when dealing with the pandemic, and their excellence in the face of extremely tough odds, this is a noble cause which will definitely pay homage to them.
At the same time however, there are a few issues of concern that the government must also deal with before planning a global health security summit. Pakistan is currently going through a debilitating health crisis; our battle against polio is never-ending and just as recently as September 7, four new samples from Karachi tested positive for wild polio. At the same time, dengue cases seem to be on the rise as Punjab and KP reported 140 new cases in the last 24 hours alone. All in all, there are 1458 active dengue cases in the country and the government’s response has left much more to be desired. Disinfectant sprays were infrequent, and awareness remained slim despite the number of cases being reported.
Similarly, 40 new HIV/AIDS cases were reported in the last two months. In fact, this disease remains to be a silent killer in Pakistan, and the number of confirmed cases have now turned this into an epidemic. Meanwhile, the fight against it is, as expected, slow. 64,519 people tested positive for Malaria in August alone and tuberculosis remains to be a prominent disease, as evidenced by the fact that we are the world’s fifth-highest TB burden country.
These are pressing health problems that need and deserve to be addressed and resolved. There can be no hope of hosting a global health security summit when there are thousands of people in the country suffering from deadly ailments, and our response has been rather slow. There needs to be more awareness about this, and the government must take on a more proactive role before it can lead a health agenda globally.