Infectious Diseases in Pakistan

By Khalid, Bushra | Economic Review, June 2011 | Go to article overview

Infectious Diseases in Pakistan


Khalid, Bushra, Economic Review


Diseases which are caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and other parasites become the main causes of death, disability, as well as social and economic disruption for millions of people. Despite the safe and effective interventions, many people are unable to follow the required prevention methods and treatment.

Lack in productivity, missed educational opportunities and health care of high costs caused by infectious diseases directly affect families and communities. Infections are more common in developing countries; the main reason behind it is the presence of co-infection. The unfavorable impact of infectious diseases is found to be most severe among the poorest people. These people have the fewest resources towards integrated health care, prevention tools and medications.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), Pakistan ranks eighth on the list of 22 high-burden tuberculosis (TB) countries in the world. According to the researches, in 2007, an estimated 297,108 people in Pakistan (mostly adults in their productive years) developed TB. Besides that, the emergence of multidrugresistant (MDR) TB and TB-HIV co-infection has become a growing concern in the country.

The Ministry of Health started to implement DOTS (the internationally recommended strategy for TB control) in 1995, where Baluchistan was selected as a pilot province. Much improvement has been made during the past five years. Pakistan's case detection rate rose from 13 percent in the year 2002 to 67 percent in the year 2007, close to WHO's target of 70 percent. According to the researches, DOTS coverage increased in Pakistan from 44 to 99 percent, during the year 2002 to 2007.

The sudden rise in case detection and the number of cases of TB reported every year since 2000 is the basic result of countrywide efforts to enhance the involvement of private practitioners and community volunteers to identify and refer TB suspects, as well as the common public who have helped with case finding. Since 2001, when TB was declared a national emergency by the Government, progress has been steady, with the support of USAID and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Regardless of improvements, the National TB Control Program (NTCP) still has to face challenges. As TB planning shifts from the national level to the district level, technical and managerial capacities at the provincial and district levels need strengthening. Furthermore, the private regions might not be fully oriented to take care of patients using the DOTS approach.

Infectious diseases can be organized into the following exposure categories. Some are basically food or waterborne diseases which are acquired through eating or drinking on the local economy.

Hepatitis A

It is a viral disease that interferes with the functioning of the liver. It spreads through consumption of food or water contaminated with fecal matter, principally in areas of poor sanitation; victims exhibit fever, jaundice, and diarrhea.

Hepatitis E

It is a water-borne viral disease that interferes with the functioning of the liver. It most commonly spreads through fecal contamination of drinking water; victims exhibit jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, and dark colored urine.

Typhoid fever

It is a bacterial disease that spreads through contact with food or water contaminated by fecal matter or sewage; victims exhibit sustained high fevers; left untreated. …

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