Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal highlighted the significance of health issues such as non communicable diseases and how they can be prevented by promoting healthy lifestyle.

            Minister expressed his views while addressing round table conference (RTC) on “Prevention of Non Communicable Diseases by promoting a healthy lifestyle” in Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform.  The RTC aims to address the challenge of non communicable diseases which include improving our health care system and increasing awareness about the diseases and healthy lifestyle, implementation of provision of Vision 2025 and 11th National Five Year Plan (2013-2018). Other stakeholders including officials of health sector and media were also present.

            Federal Minister Mr. Ahsan Iqbal said that improving our health care system is primarily the responsibility of government and it requires time and allocation of money and government is seriously taking serious initiatives to address this. Recently, Prime Minister Health Insurance Program is one such major step in this direction.

Minister said that health issues are not being discussed in media and political discourse however he appreciated the senior journalist Mr. Javed Chaudhary for highlighting health issues in his recent column. Minister said that health is the most important factor in individual’s life. “Economics, politics and other things are all dependent on good health of individuals and of a nation but unfortunately, historically health has been neglected in Pakistan’’ said by the minister. Minister said that all age groups and all regions are affected by non communicable diseases. These diseases are driven by forces that include lack of knowledge, rapid unplanned urbanization, and globalization of unhealthy lifestyles.

            He maintained that it is the responsibility of government and other stakeholders like media, schools, physicians and communities to create awareness about the diseases and healthy lifestyle and how they can be prevented. He said that there is a need to increase awareness about non communicable diseases which is not costly due to social media these days.

            Minister also highlighted that health and education are responsibilities of provincial governments after 18th amendment but it is also the responsibility of nation as a whole. He said that diseases include diabetes, heart diseases, cancer and thalassemia are increasing each day. Not only poor’s, but middle class and upper middle class are also becoming the victims of these life taking diseases. Non healthy life style including smoking, inadequate physical exercise and bad dietary habits are the primary reason.

Minister said that we are developing a shared understanding of the health value chain in partnership with provinces as well as with the general public under Vision 2025. The emphasis is to work with provinces on access to healthcare and ensuring a standard level of service delivery throughout the country.

            While talking about 11th National Five Year Plan (2013-18)-strategic priorities, Minister said that investment in the hospital infrastructure, health education and awareness will help control cardiac, diabetic and other degenerative diseases.

He added that every progressive society follows the rule of “Early to Bed and Early to Rise” which is a healthy activity in itself. Everyone has to be a part of healthy activities in order to beat non communicable diseases. Every government officer needs to become a development leader. It is the duty of Federal Government to make Islamabad, Fata, AJK and Gilgit Baltistan a “Model” for all provinces of the country, Minister said.

            Senior Journalist and Anchorperson Mr. Javed Chaudhary also appreciated sincere efforts of Federal Minister Mr. Ahsan Iqbal and expressed his views that we all should promote healthy activities starting from our own home by making our children indulge in sports so that they become physically active. He raised a point that government should make it mandatory to get medical certificate before getting married so that these non communicable diseases can be controlled. “We cannot progress with unhealthy nation” He concluded.