ISLAMABAD: The Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) for Health, Dr Faisal Sultan, said on Thursday that over the years heart disease has been seen in an age group that was once considered to be in perfect health.
Addressing the participants of a seminar titled “Health and Economic Consequences of Sugary Drinks (SSB) in Pakistan” organized by the National Heart Association of Pakistan (Panah), he said that heart diseases were continuously increasing in the countries in development.
“Heart disease is directly linked to diabetes and obesity. Doctors who have been practicing for a few decades will agree with me that over the years heart attacks and illnesses have become common among young people. One of the reasons is the use of tobacco and the other sugary drinks. We have to discourage sugary drinks because we have reduced physical activities,” he said.
Dr Sultan said sugary drinks were marketed very cleverly and caused disease.
“There are 33 million diabetics in Pakistan and the treatment of the disease or diseases related to diabetes is very expensive. We need to sensitize the masses and share with them the experiences of other countries,” he said.
While sharing the experience of the United Arab Emirates, he said that taxation can reduce the consumption of sugary drinks.
“We have been working on a bill that will play a part in reducing the consumption of sugary drinks,” he said.
Dr Sultan said the ministry will play its part in solving the problem of obesity besides creating opportunities for people to lead active lives.
Panah chairman, retired Major General Masoodur Rehman Kiani, said the association was trying to play its part in keeping people healthy. Everyone must stay away from diseases and for that, they must avoid foods that are harmful to health.
Panah Secretary General Sanaullah Ghumman urged the government to look at factors that posed a serious threat to the health of young children and mothers.
The director of the Baqai Institute of Diabetology and Endocrinology, Prof. Abdul Basit, said the rise in obesity and diabetes in Pakistan was a matter of concern.
The number of people with diabetes has risen to 33 million, with evidence suggesting that reducing consumption of ultra-processed foods and soft drinks was an effective way to reduce obesity and associated non-communicable diseases.
Request for tax increase
The Coalition for Tobacco Control Pakistan (CTC) has urged the government to increase cigarette taxes in the next budget, as smoking causes health risks and increases healthcare expenditure in Pakistan.
Zeeshan Danish, national coordinator of the CTC, said in a statement that raising the price of tobacco products through higher taxes was the most effective way to reduce tobacco consumption.
Posted in Dawn, March 18, 2022