Open Air School in PakistanIn Pakistan, about 58 percent of the population is illiterate and 11-12 million children are working instead of attending school. But thankfully, a firefighter in Islamabad is working to help change these major societal problems in Pakistan.

For the past 30 years, Mohammed Ayub, affectionately known as “Master Ayub,” has held classes in a park near Pakistan’s parliament to educate poor children who cannot afford an education.

At this “open air” school in Pakistan, the children are taught a 1st to 10th grade curriculum, and are even taught how to speak English.

Ayub felt compelled to start teaching poor children after he moved from the agricultural town of Mandi Bahauddin, to Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. In the city of Islamabad he saw small children in the streets doing various types of work such as cleaning cars, selling trinkets or begging.

One day after work, he approached one of these working children and told him that he would give him an education completely for free. The child accepted his preposition, and as word spread of his open air school in Pakistan, many more children began to enroll. Now, as soon as his work finishes at 3 pm, he goes to the park to teach about 200 students with the help of former students and friends.

Ayub himself pays for all of the students’ books, pencils and food.

Ayub believes education is extremely important for poor children because these citizens are especially vulnerable to developing into criminals and terrorists. In an interview with VPRO Metropolis, Ayub said “poor people; they need help. They start thinking negatively. They become thieves or plot bombings. That’s why I want to help them, so that they have an aim in life. They are our future teachers and doctors.”

His students are very ambitious and dream of becoming doctors and scientists. Before exams, they all gather in the park at night to study; when it gets chilly, they bundle up and study harder.

Ayub’s former students have gone on to attend university and secure well-paying jobs, and in the future, Ayub dreams of building a school for his students, especially because he hopes to incorporate computers in his teaching. In an interview with Al Jazeera he says that he wants to leave a facility behind after his death “where these children continue to get the light of education.”

Anna Gargiulo

Photo: Flickr

Program Graduates Pakistanis From PovertyBenzair Income Support Program’s (BISP) University Poverty Graduation Buddy Program graduates Pakistanis from poverty, improving their livelihoods and investing in their futures.

BISP has reached more than 5.4 million women beneficiaries across Pakistan and contributes to human capital development through primary education conditional cash transfers. Its goal is to increase households’ incomes, skills and capital, reducing poverty across Pakistani communities.

The issue BISP hopes to remedy is that beneficiaries often lack adequate information and opportunities to overcome poverty. Under BISP’s University Poverty Graduation Buddy Program, university students help poor Pakistani women find sustainable solutions to overcome poverty.

In a meeting at BISP headquarters in July, BISP chairperson Marvi Memon stated that the Higher Education Commission (HEC) enlisted universities to nominate 20 students each for the graduation program. Students are linked with a corresponding BISP beneficiary in the area near their participating university. BISP’s education program graduates Pakistanis from poverty by enhancing their skills and providing financial services.

BISP’s skills development and coaching enrich beneficiaries’ lives with training that transforms their present state and invests in their futures. Through the University Poverty Graduation Buddy Program, students help create opportunities for beneficiaries by preparing them with the tools to become entrepreneurs. Students market products made by beneficiaries through E-commerce and showcase the success to a panel of judges who choose the best graduation model. Graduation models are as follows: Training for Rural Economic Empowerment, Microfinance and Interest Free Loans, Employee Guarantees, Comprehensive Coaching for the Extreme Poor, Inclusive Business Cooperation and Households Overcoming Extreme Poverty.

BISP explores the best global practices, graduation models and sustainable solutions to develop poverty-reduction methods in a local context. University students are an asset to BISP’s graduation model development and poverty reduction by helping beneficiaries find inclusive information and access opportunities to overcome their poverty.

With university students’ partnership, BISP continues finding solutions to reduce poverty and improve local Pakistani communities.

Sarah Dunlap

Photo: Flickr


Pakistan's IPD Problem
In recent years, Pakistan has become home to one of the world’s largest population of internally displaced persons (IDPs). A decade-long militant insurgency; many military operations in the northwest and natural disasters have displaced millions of people from their homes. As a result, Pakistan’s IDP problem is the greatest humanitarian crisis in the country’s history.

According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), “a total of 5.3 million people in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have been displaced as a consequence of counter-terrorism operations since 2008, some of them multiple times.” Of these, 4.8 million to have returned, and the rest have yet to go back to their homes.

The state of Pakistan, with the help of international humanitarian groups, has responded to the crises. However, it has not fully met the post-displacement challenges of the displaced and returnees. Particularly, five things about Pakistan’s IDP problem warrant the immediate attention of national government and international aid agencies:

  1. Education: Tens of thousands of displaced children have their education disrupted as a result of religious militancy and military operations in FATA. Large numbers of them were still out of school after displacements because the state had no proper arrangements to help them resume their education. Before the start of operations, non-state armed groups (NSAGs) had destroyed many schools in the region. They only left behind madrassas (religious seminaries). Girls’ education was particularly affected. In 2012, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) attempted the assassination of teenage education activist Malala Yousafzai in Swat valley, aiming to scare girls away from school. The need for education after IDPs’ return is only greater, as most schools have been either destroyed or used as home shelters that need repair.
  2. Lack of Basic Necessities: A quarter of IDPs did not have access to basic necessities, such as food, clean drinking water and shelter. Most of them lost around a third of their food supplies during the displacement. Poor strategy and coordination have made it worse for relief operations to provide for the basic needs of IDPs. Moreover, the state’s rehabilitation services, as most IDPs have returned or are in the process of returning to their homes, are less than encouraging. The state provides a resettlement allowance that surely helps, but not enough to repair the destruction left behind. Most importantly, FATA is the poorest region in Pakistan. The area needs a comprehensive development plan, as it has been historically ignored.
  3. Second Class Citizens: The IDPs not only faced harsh circumstances in camps, but they have also received a very unwelcoming attitude from some host communities. In the recent past, the provinces of Punjab and Sindh have opposed the entry of IDPs from FATA because of the alleged fear of terrorists among them. Moreover, once the IDPs entered and settled temporarily, some host communities and even security agencies in Punjab labeled them as a potential threat of terrorism. The alienation of one of the largest ethnic groups, Pashtuns, only made it more difficult for IDPs to find work and live in peace. This double standard regarding the treatment of refugees is striking to watch; many in Pakistan are angry at the West for its treatment of refugees from Muslim lands.
  4. Health: Healthcare in Pakistan is the holy grail for the poor in normal circumstances. Mass exodus due to conflicts and insecurity have made it impossible for displaced persons to attain basic health care. The most common problems among IDPs are malaria, skin infections, diarrhea and colds. Very few mothers and children received assistance to fulfill their nutritional needs. Health services, though available in the area, already overstretched before the IDPs’ arrival.
  5. Insecurity: Instability and recurring violence is another challenge of Pakistan’s IDP problem. Despite the army’s claim of clearing the region from militants, the events on the ground indicate a different reality. Many FATA locals are suspicious of the army’s role in eliminating militants. The U.S. has also blamed Pakistan for playing a double-game by supporting groups like the Haqqanis as its long-term ally in Afghanistan where Pakistan considers the increasing Indian influence as a threat to its territorial integrity. Insecurity has also made it difficult for aid agencies to reach out to the affected people. The government requires most NGOs to get NOCs in order to function in the FATA.

The good news is that national and provincial authorities, military, civil society and community networks are all involved in Pakistan’s IDP problem. The government has made substantial efforts to address IDPs’ needs over the years. Immediate relief has generally included shelter, relief, cash grants, water, etc., but Pakistan has no national policy or legislation to cope with the recurrent crises of internally displaced persons.

Aslam Kakar

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Pakistan
In 2016, Pakistan produced its first report on multidimensional poverty from its Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform. According to this report, almost 39% of Pakistan’s population lives in poverty. This figure is Pakistan’s official Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which was compiled by UNDP Pakistan and the University of Oxford.

Initially, this figure shows a sign of progress, as the rate of poverty in Pakistan has decreased from 55% in 2004 to 39% in 2016. However, this progress has not occurred evenly throughout the country. In urban areas, the poverty rate can be as low as 9.3% while in rural areas the poverty rate rises to 54.6%.

The MPI does not define poverty merely as an extreme lack of wealth. It also takes health, education and standard of living into consideration, hence a multidimensional definition of poverty. The idea is that with a multifaceted approach, poverty in Pakistan can be more understandable and easier to alleviate.

As of 2015, 29.5% of Pakistan’s population was below the national poverty line. In this way of thinking, poverty simply means that one’s income is not enough to purchase a certain standard of goods, mainly food. It is true that poverty in Pakistan is decreasing in that more people have moved out of a situation where they cannot afford food, and this is definitely a sign of progress. However, inequality remains.

Inequality between the upper and middle and lower classes continues to grow, both in income and region, though the gender pay gap has decreased. Dawn, Pakistan’s oldest English writing newspaper, writes, “With the rich getting richer, and the middle class expanding, with political control in the hands of both under the despotism of capital in the neoliberal present, inequality is only going to grow in Pakistan.”

The Minister for Planning, Development and Reform has a plan. The MPI is a tool that will be used for inclusive and balanced growth in an attempt to produce an equal and harmonious society. It “provides useful analysis and information for targeting poverty, and reducing regional inequalities.” Within the next years, it is hoped that poverty in Pakistan will continue to decrease.

Ellen Ray
Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Pakistan
Pakistan’s economy fluctuates daily, and the nation’s progress is slow. The causes of poverty in Pakistan are innumerable, inhibiting economic growth and development, as well as preventing the poor from escaping poverty. The following are the three main causes of poverty in Pakistan.

Population growth
At 1.86%, Pakistan has the highest population growth rate in the world. By 2050, the country will surpass 350 million people. According to Commissioner Multan, division, the main reason for such high growth is the lack of family planning. Consequently, a large population has caused unemployment, poverty and lawlessness.

The annual abortion rate in Pakistan is 50 per 100 women, and nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended and more than half end in abortion. Pakistan’s maternal mortality rate (178 per hundred thousand live births) and infant mortality rate (66 per 1000 live births) are the highest in the world. These numbers show that Pakistani women would greatly benefit from improved health services, as well as greater educational and employment opportunities.

Largely uneducated populace
About half of Pakistan’s population is illiterate, and 7.26 million children are out of school due to poverty. According to an Institute of Social and Policy Sciences report, “Pakistan has the second-highest number of out-of-school children in the world after Nigeria because Pakistan spends the lowest GDP on education in South Asian countries.” The report claims this lack of spending is detrimentally affecting the nation’s school system.

Since many children are not in school and are impoverished, child labor is a major issue in Pakistan. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimated in 2005 that there would be 10 to 12 million child workers in Pakistan by 2010-11. In reality, according to an All-Pakistan Labor Force Survey, this number almost doubled to about 21 million child workers.

Without education and job skills training, young people cannot adopt the skills needed for employment. Existing systems fail to address the skills demanded by employers, and this hinders economic growth and societal development. Without adequate education, people remain unemployed and do not have the opportunity to rise out of poverty.

Imbalanced Taxes
Pakistan’s tax system shows unfortunate proof of the government’s corruption. The system does not differentiate between varying levels of income, but instead focuses significantly on the poor. In fact, 80% of the tax revenue comes from the poor for services including utilities, petrol and mobile communication. Meanwhile, the taxes collected from the rich do not exceed five percent.

Obed Pasha, lecturer in public policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told the Asia Times, “What we have is a completely broken system [in Pakistan], where the entire burden is on the poor and large businesses do not pay taxes at all.” Without income and employment opportunities, the poor cannot afford to pay high taxes, hindering their hope to rise out of poverty in Pakistan.

Out of every 10 Pakistanis, four are without the basic needs of life, which include food, shelter, education and healthcare. In order for Pakistan’s poor to rise out of poverty, they must have adequate resources. Only improved health and education services for the poor and just taxes can increase Pakistan’s economic mobility and development.

Sarah Dunlap

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Pakistan
Poverty is a global affliction affecting numerous countries in the developing world. Pakistan, a country in South Asia, is home to millions of people who live in extreme poverty. Poverty in Pakistan is on track to decrease, but there is still work to be done.

With approximately 185 million citizens, Pakistan ranks 147th out of 188 countries in the Human Development Index (HDI). Reports on poverty in Pakistan show that as much as 40% of the population–roughly the size of the population of Florida, California and New York combined–live beneath the poverty line.

The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) report by the Pakistan Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform in June 2016 shows that 39% of Pakistanis live in multidimensional poverty. The MPI methodology, developed by UNDP and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative in 2010, uses a broader concept of poverty by reflecting people’s deprivations related to health, education and standard of living in addition to income and wealth.


1.  Regional and Provincial Disparities in Poverty in Pakistan

The report states that national poverty rates in Pakistan fell from 55% to 39% from 2004 to 2015. This is a strong decline; however, development across different regions of the country is uneven. Poverty in urban areas is at 9.3% as compared to 54.6% in rural areas. Similarly, great disparities exist across provinces, with the highest rates of poverty in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan. The MPI report states that “over two-thirds of people in FATA (73%) and Balochistan (71%) live in multidimensional poverty. Poverty in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stands at 49%, Gilgit-Baltistan and Sindh at 43%, Punjab at 31% and Azad Jammu and Kashmir at 25%.”

Some districts such as Qilla Abdullah, Harnai and Barkhan in Balochistan have more than 90% poverty compared to Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, in which less than 10% of residents live in multidimensional poverty. The report also found that the decrease in multidimensional poverty in Balochistan was the slowest while poverty levels had actually increased there and in Sindh province in the past decade.


2. Corruption in Pakistan

Despite being the second-largest economy in South Asia, development is limited by entrenched poverty in Pakistan, social inequality, lack of access to social services and extreme corruption. The 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International ranks Pakistan 116th globally. Corruption in Pakistan is not a new phenomenon. Recent Panama leaks involving the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s three children are just one example: they owned offshore companies and assets not shown on his family’s wealth statement. This and other cases of corruption by political and military elites have made it impossible to alleviate widespread poverty.


3. Population Boom

Burgeoning population growth is another major issue that weighs down Pakistan’s socio-economic development. According to some reports, in the past 10 to15 years, the population of Pakistan has grown by more than 40 million, making it the sixth most populous country in the world. Another report found that Pakistan’s population increases by 1.8% per year. By that rate, it is feared that, if the nightmarish growth goes unchecked, the country’s population will be 245 million by 2030.


4. Development and Conflict

Pakistan is caught between the United States’ War on Terrorism in Afghanistan and an increasingly unstable relationship with India. Tackling poverty is important because economic instability and a lack of development can only lead to conflict and violence, domestically and regionally. In the past two decades, Pakistan has seen increasing violence at the hands of militant jihadists and Baloch insurgents. Rather than bettering the lives of common people by introducing broad-based socio-economic reforms, the Pakistani state uses excessive military force to “resolve” issues in the country’s northern and southwestern regions. Unending conflicts are another reason why it is difficult for development to take place.


5. Disproportionate Defense Spending

Most importantly, instead of allocating sufficient funds to address both acute and long-standing poverty, the country spends the largest amount of national expenditures on defense. A May 2017 report showed that “Pakistan’s defense expenditure in the next financial year (2017-18) will be around seven percent higher than it was in the outgoing year to Rs920.2 billion (USD$8.65 billion).” It was Rs841 billion (USD$7.9 billion) for the year 2016-2017. In contrast, Pakistan spends only 2.6% of its GDP on education, which is the lowest in South Asia.


6. Consequences of Poverty in Pakistan

Grinding poverty and lack of development fuel child labor, illiteracy, religious extremism and endless conflicts on massive scales. The Gross National Income per capita is only $5,031. Life expectancy in Pakistanis at 66.4 years and the expected years of schooling is miserably low at 8.1 years. These figures are among the lowest in the world.

The good news is that poverty in Pakistan decreased by 15 percent in the past decade, but, given the grim lows overall, this figure is less than encouraging. In order to alleviate poverty, policymakers need to focus on achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Although it is a big challenge for an underdeveloped country like Pakistan, meeting the SDGs is important since they provide the best possible integrated way for inclusive growth, peace and development.

Finally, policymakers should also focus on addressing the poverty of opportunity. The poverty of income is a result of the poverty of opportunity. Poverty in Pakistan is a multidimensional problem requiring multidimensional solutions.

Aslam Kakar

Photo: Google

Healthcare Accessibility
Throughout Pakistan, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is changing healthcare accessibility. Construction of the first Burns, Trauma, and Reconstructive Surgery Centre in Peshawar of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan began in 2010. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s government and its Workers Welfare Fund (WWF) funded the center’s construction and was to provide new equipment.

The WWF was responsible for the center’s basement, ground and first floors. With the total budget for the project being Rs1 billion, the WWF pledged Rs600 million. The project was to be completed in 2012, but construction was put to a halt after the WWF confirmed a lack of funds, leaving the center 80 percent complete.

Meanwhile, patients needing emergency care were traveling further than necessary to Kharian, Punjab. Year after year, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government and the WWF delayed construction, creating increasing discontentment. Medical personnel were outraged, having seen that The Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan Integration Foundation had managed to build three burns and plastic surgery units in one year. The USAID signed a Memorandum of Understanding to provide Rs1.6 billion for the 120 beds needed to complete the Burns, Trauma, and Reconstructive Surgery Centre and agreed to complete construction within a year to increase healthcare accessibility, assuage dissatisfaction and restore optimism.

The USAID is assisting Pakistan in other ways as well. In the Malakand Division of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the USAID is improving healthcare accessibility for mothers and their children by funding the Pakistan FATA/KP Health Initiative. In their current situation, women in the Malakand Division and FATA cannot receive health services from male medical personnel. They are often unable to reach health facilities because of low transportation options or the health facilities within their proximity cannot manage complicated childbirth cases.

To combat these inabilities, the Pakistan FATA/KP Health Initiative established three sufficient initiatives with a foundation built on healthcare accessibility. First, developing human resources for health: recruiting, training and deploying female health workers and community midwives. Second, delivering health services by optimizing mobile health units to reach more women. Last, providing technical assistance to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Department of Health.

While there is still much work to be done in the future, it is encouraging to see progress being made toward Pakistan’s healthcare accessibility by organizations like the USAID.

Tiffany Santos

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Pakistan
Human rights in Pakistan are in peril. From the indifferent attitude toward “honor killings” to unnecessary executions, it seems that this country is far from establishing a free society.

In the twenty-first century, violence and discrimination are disregarded as memories of the past and considered rare in such an advanced and connected world. However, these problems continue to plague nations today. In countries that suffer political discourse especially, human rights have a long way to go.

Approximately 20 percent, or roughly 1,000, of the world’s honor killings each year occur in Pakistan alone. Women are often the victims of this longstanding practice. Those who disgrace the household by choosing to marry a man of their choice or exposing themselves in unorthodox manners are considered to be undeserving of life.

In July 2016, Qandeel Baloch, a popular actress, was drugged and strangled to death by her brother, Waseem Baloch. Her crime: in order to support her family, she became an internet sensation by posting videos that advocated for women’s rights and criticized Pakistan’s resistance toward expanding them.

The next morning, a country of more than 200 million people woke up to news channels covering the controversial killing of one of Pakistan’s most popular actresses. The nation’s justice minister promised anxious citizens that the Parliament would examine a proposed bill for punishing those who commit honor killings and other related crimes.

As for Qandeel Baloch, the Punjab provincial government restricted members of her family from legally forgiving her brother. In other words, even if her relatives forgive Mr. Baloch, he cannot escape prosecution. A common measure, this ruling is only effective in producing one result: the universal condoning of such acts, while the case remains unaddressed and the accused unpunished.

Honor killings are not the only form of human rights abuse in Pakistan, unfortunately. From child marriages to discrimination against minorities, the list goes on. However, what people do not realize is that in many cases, the culprit of unjust killings is the institution that aims to protect the lives of citizens: the government.

Pakistan is notorious for its legalization of capital punishment. This act goes unopposed because of its reputation as a proper measure. However, this is not any more legal or more ethical than the occasional honor killing.

In 2017 thus far, there have been 44 known executions in Pakistan–and these are only the ones which have been reported. From reasons ranging from rape to murder, it is estimated that thousands of people lose their lives to executions each year. Previously, only extreme offenses warranted capital punishment. That changed this year when 30-year-old Taimoor Raza received the death penalty for allegedly insulting Islamic religious figures.

As an unprecedented decision by the Pakistani Shari’at Court, this cannot be opposed because the court has the full autonomy to assess whether a crime is deserving of capital punishment. As Taimoor Raza awaits his sentence, 14 people who are also accused of this crime wait to see whether their fates will be like that of Mr. Raza’s.

There are many reasons why there is a human rights problem in Pakistan. The weak authority of the government and the presence of terrorism stand as the two most popular justifications.

However, it is hopeful to see that there are people who are attempting to change the state of affairs in this nation. From protests to petitions to measures by the government, there is a legitimate mission to end these abuses. In the case of Qandeel Baloch, the Monday after the murder, many women protested for the victim.

In the end, the true question lies in whether people will be successful in bringing human rights to Pakistan. So far, with rising danger for humanitarian activists, the answer to that pressing question remains unclear.

For now, the only ray of hope that Pakistanis find is in the words of political reform activists, who promise that change will eventually come.

Sheharbano Jafry

Photo: Google

Common Diseases in PakistanPakistan, officially known as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is located in South Asia. Pakistan is the sixth-most populous country in the world, with about 201 million people. High population, unfavorable climatic conditions and the lack of educational and economic development put Pakistani citizens in an unhealthy environment.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Pakistan ranks 122 out of 190 countries in terms of healthcare standards. Here are some of the most common diseases in Pakistan:

  1. Dengue Fever
    Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease that is transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito infected with the dengue virus. It cannot be spread directly from person to person. Some of the disease’s symptoms include high fever, headaches, muscle pain, vomiting and skin rash. Dengue fever may be mistaken for the flu or other viral infections. However, dengue fever is a severe form of the virus and may cause serious diseases including enlargement of the liver and failure of the circulatory system if not treated in time.In 2011, there was a dengue outbreak in Pakistan, and more than 250,000 suspected cases of dengue fever were reported. Between 2009 to 2011, dengue fever caused 348 deaths in Pakistan. In order to prevent outbreaks of dengue fever from happening again in the future, Pakistan’s government strengthened surveillance and general preventive measures, improved clinical management of patients and implemented targeted vector control activities, according to the WHO. In addition, the government also organized public awareness campaigns for risk mitigation.
  2. Tuberculosis
    Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that affects the lungs, which can be spread by coughing and sneezing. The WHO claims that without proper treatment, up to two-thirds of people that are infected with tuberculosis will die. Tuberculosis is one of the common diseases in Pakistan that can have irreversible consequences. Symptoms of tuberculosis include coughing, fever, fatigue, chills and loss of appetite. According to the WHO, Pakistan was ranked eighth out of the 22 countries in the world that are most highly prone to tuberculosis. About 420,000 new tuberculosis cases are reported every year in Pakistan.The government of Pakistan set up the National TB Control Program (NTP) to help reduce the risk of getting tuberculosis. According to the NTP official website, it provides skill training for medics, paramedics and lab technicians. In addition, the program offers a free supply of anti-TB medicines to all diagnosed cases.
  3. Diabetes
    Pakistan has the highest diabetes rates in all of South Asia, as about seven million people are affected by the disease. Diabetes is a disease that affects the patient’s body’s ability to respond to the hormone insulin, which then causes unusual metabolism of carbohydrates and high levels of glucose in the blood and urine. If not treated, the high glucose levels can cause damage to blood vessels and parts of the body.The high diabetes rate may be a result of the unhealthy food industry in Pakistan. The Diabetic’s Institute of Pakistan (DIP) has been fighting against diabetes since it was founded in 1996. DIP offers diabetes awareness programs to provide useful knowledge to the patients and the public, as well as pharmacy services for patients.
  4. Cancer
    Representing 8 percent of all deaths in Pakistan, cancer is a major health problem for Pakistanis. Lung cancer and breast cancer are the most common forms in Pakistan. A recent study shows that about one in every nine women in Pakistan has breast cancer. Pakistan also has the highest consumption of tobacco in South Asia. A large number of the patients are not aware that they have cancer until they are in critical stages of cancer, and they usually do not have the access to proper treatment.In 2013, Pakistan established a cancer registry that compiles data on cancer patients from across the country, which is an important step in cancer prevention and control in Pakistan. In 2016, 18 cancer hospitals in Pakistan were working on hospital-based registries. These hospitals provide about 80 percent of the cancer treatment in Pakistan.
  5. Hepatitis A and E
    Even though there are vaccines available for hepatitis, hepatitis A and E are still common diseases in Pakistan. Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease which is transmitted through contaminated water or unhealthy food. In addition to the vaccine, safe water supply, healthy food, improved sanitation and handwashing are all effective ways to fight the disease.Hepatitis E is a liver disease that is usually self-limiting. However, it may cause acute liver failure. According to the WHO, East and South Asia have the highest prevalence of hepatitis in the world. According to Pakistan’s health department, the government is using all channels of communication to increase awareness of hepatitis among the public. The government also provides medicine and vaccines for the patients.

These common diseases in Pakistan are a major health problem for the country’s citizens. The Pakistan government and many other organizations, including the WHO, are working on increasing public awareness and providing medical programs to train more doctors. However, the Pakistan government still needs to provide access to more hospitals, as well as better healthcare, that can make proper treatment affordable for the public.

Mike Liu

Photo: Flickr

Stunting in Pakistan
On May 26, 2017, the World Bank approved a fund of $61.6 million to reduce stunting in Pakistan over the next 25 years through the Sindh Enhancing Response to Reduce Stunting Project.

Stunting refers to children under the age of two who are deprived of nutrients and thus are of low height. It is often associated with delayed physical and cognitive development. For a few decades, stunting in Pakistan has been widespread and currently affects almost 45 percent of children in the country.

Half of Pakistani children have anemia, a condition that also affects mothers, and both may suffer from wasting and iron deficiency. This is especially problematic for mothers, as all of these conditions can restrict fetal growth and make babies more prone to stunting. Unsurprisingly, the poor and food-insecure are at the highest risk of stunting.

The stunting problem is an education issue as well as a health issue. Early marriages, a low literacy rate for women and a lack of knowledge of maternal care procedures all contribute to malnutrition. Women may feed their children tea and animal milk in place of breast milk simply because they don’t know of any other option.

In the long-term, stunted children may have a hard time getting an education due to arrested mental development. According to Illango Patchamuthu, the World Bank Country Director for Pakistan, stunting “puts them at a permanent disadvantage in the age of the knowledge economy.”

The World Bank recognizes the different consequences of stunting, and according to the Sindh Enhancing Response to Reduce Stunting Project, its strategy to reduce stunting will be two-fold. The project will first address stunting directly by expanding a “package of services” that focus on nutrition practices.

It is important that the World Bank establish frameworks for nutrition programs, as these will hopefully contribute to stunting reduction beyond the program and also help educate mothers and families on the myriad of issues relating to nutrition that affect stunting in Pakistan.

The second part of the project will attempt to establish a cash transfer program. Cash transfers are a form of direct monetary aid that can allow poor families affected by stunting easier access to nutritious food. However, cash transfers aren’t always the most helpful form of aid as their effectiveness depends on the stability of local economies, which is likely why this cash transfer program is being established on a “conditional” basis.

Through these efforts, the World Bank aims to reduce stunting in Pakistan by one percent each year for the next five years.

Caroline Meyers

Photo: Flickr