Stories about health

Do you have a toilet in your house?

Almost two and a half billion people in the world do not have toilets in their homes or lack access to proper sanitation facilities. South Asia makes a significant contribution to these staggering numbers – 65% in India, 53% in Pakistan and 45% in Bangladesh. Not only does this result in adverse health-related problems, like malnutrition and diarrhoea, it also severely affects the economy. On an average, countries in South Asia lose 6% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) because of poor sanitation. Though many people in the region consider this lack of proper washrooms a major problem, it is not the health-related issues that worry them. ...

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India does not want to invade Pakistan and the US is not our enemy!

India no longer considers Pakistan a threat. Let’s face it. India is poised to become a global economic engine; its economy is the 10th largest and third by Purchasing Power Parity. India is a member of the G4 and has recently acquired almost absolute control of the International Cricket Council (ICC). Having a G4 membership alone raises India’s global influence. Further, the day is near when India would be a permanent member in the UN Security Council. India played its cards well and is a potential super-power. It is time for Pakistan to come out of its shell of denial and recognise India’s swift ...

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Borderline Personality Disorder: ‘‘Every time I get angry or sad, I cut myself with a blade’’

‘‘Every time I get angry or sad I cut myself with a blade. The pain and sight of blood helps me to calm down.’’ A 20-year-old patent told me this in a psychiatric emergency room while showing me her forearm which had multiple superficial cuts. “Every time I feel numb from stress or emotional pain, I cut or burn myself. It’s not with the intent to die but it gives me certain pleasure.” She kept explaining it to me without any emotion on her face. “Life is like walking on egg shells for me, I mess up at every level. I have severe ...

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Shed those pounds: 10 easy tips that guarantee weight loss!

Everyone wants to look smart and slender. But most of us have extra pounds which we want to get rid of. All those nights of binge eating and food therapy will catch up with you eventually. I’m always looking for tips to get rid of that extra weight. We need to remember that there is no short cut to losing weight, even though it takes less time to gain it and more time to shed off those pounds. We have to work and be patient about the results. We can be assured of results, but to expect these results to be ...

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Pir Sahab’s orders: Don’t breast-feed your child or eat meat

Recently, a two-month old boy, Faizan, was brought to the hospital where I work, by his grandmother. She complained that he suffered from severe diarrhoea. I immediately asked her to bring Faizan’s mother so that we could establish breast-feed for the baby. We are currently in the process of educating mothers about the importance of breast-feeding at our malnutrition stabilization centre, and are trying to help them establish or re-establish breast feeding. In reply to my request, she answered, “Who tou nahi ayegi kyunke uska perhaiz hai.” (She won’t come because she is on abstinence.) Seeing my perplexed expression, she told me ...

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My visit to Aga Khan Hospital’s cancer ward

“The cells found are malignant and you are likely to have cancer.” On a visit to Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), a 43-year-old woman suffering from lymphoma cancer, told me that her first thoughts upon hearing these words were about chemotherapy. This was not surprising. Most cancer patients fear chemotherapy more than the disease itself. In fact, cancer patients absolutely dread the days scheduled for their chemo sessions. Chemotherapy and the will to survive The simplest and crudest definition of chemotherapy is poisoning an individual’s body with drugs that wipe out the malignant cancer cells while simultaneously re-producing healthy cells in the procedure. The ...

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Why do some mothers want to hurt their newborns?

New motherhood is no picnic. The indignity of childbirth, stitches in unmentionable places, the physical marathon of labour, the month-long bleeding and more. It doesn’t matter how easy your pregnancy was or how much you wanted a baby, the reality of motherhood usually comes as a bit of a shock. It’s impossible to overstate the major lack of sleep and the sheer exhaustion of looking after a newborn. Struggling to feed a newborn every two hours, cleaning sticky newborn poop and worrying as they inevitably get jaundice is all part and parcel of the deal. Add major hormone fluctuations as your body ...

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Do you know what your pharmacist does?

All around the globe, World Pharmacist Day is celebrated on September 25, in order to show respect for this important, yet often overlooked, branch of health care.  The responsibilities of a pharmacist are many and varied ranging from patient care to dispensing medications; and from monitoring patient health and progress to maximizing their response to the medication. In addition, pharmacists are also responsible for educating consumers and patients on the use of prescribed drugs and over-the-counter medications as well as for advising physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals on drug decisions. Since they also have expertise in the composition of ...

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When the poor pay with their lives for fizzy drinks

Travel through rural Pakistan and two things will strike you. One is heart rending poverty and the other is hospitality. Visitors are greeted with warmth and selfless generosity. The poorest of the poor will immediately call for ‘paani’ for their visitors. Paani means water in Urdu, but in the local lexicon it has come to mean a bottled fizzy drink. And ‘paani’ brooks no refusal. Visitors can demur all they want but the host is not deterred.  “It’s only paani”, he says. “It can do no harm”. But it can and it does. The impression amongst the general public that it ...

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Weight loss: How I became a big fat-loser!

If the human body is an input-output system, that is, what you put in, you shall tuck out, why is being overweight such a pervading problem in Pakistan? Countless people, myself included, yo-yo between weight loss and weight gain throughout their adolescent lives. While policymakers look to Turkey for solutions to dispose of our waste, who in the health ministry is turning to solve our growing waist problem? With the government not budging on its ‘top priorities’, the problem and its remedial measures ‘wrest’ with the individual. I have been a victim of a lack of resources and care when it comes to weight loss here at home. Luckily, ...

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