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Pakistan’s Public Health System On Downward Tren

Nearly 10 percent of Pakistan's 155 million population carries the deadly hepatitis virus, a group of medical professionals said Monday. //

"Hepatitis B and C is a time bomb waiting to explode unless the government takes drastic measures to control it," said the president of the Pakistan Medical Association, Dr Omar Ayub, quoting the organisation's annual 2006 report.

The association represents medical practitioners and surgeons across Pakistan and its warning is based on the number of patients seeking treatment against the deadly virus.

"This (hepatitis) threat is 100 times more serious than AIDS because there has been a sharp decline in the quality of life over the last few years, because of poverty and inadequate health cover," Dr Ayub pointed out.

"The government must also launch awareness campaigns through the media and significantly enhance the allocation for health in its annual budget," Ayub added.

During fiscal 2005-06, the government allocated 4,128 million rupees (about $70 million) for the health sector, which is less than 2 percent of the total spending.

In the largely poor population, only one doctor is available for 1,900 people while there is one specialist for 14,500 persons.

The inadequate infrastructure also leaves big space for quacks who through attractive advertisements, mostly in the vernacular Urdu language press, offering cheap remedies for hepatitis B and C, cancer and kidney ailments.

The government has already drafted a law to discourage and punish quacks but has not succeeded yet to put it before the legislature.

The association's report said that the life expectancy in Pakistan has declined from 63 to 60 years.

--Edited IANS

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