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Unity In Diversity In The Critical Juncture Of History

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20th-May-2020       
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Saleh Akram  :
Almost the entire world has been reeling under a deadly pressure of a hitherto unknown and unforeseen disease which has been termed as Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered corona virus. The virus has grabbed nearly two-third of the globe and already accounted for a few million deaths. In the face of devastating effect around the globe, concerns have shifted from supply-side manufacturing issues to decreased business in the services sector. The pandemic caused the largest global recession in history, with more than a third of the global population placed on lockdown.
Scholars and scientists around the globe have locked their horns to find a cure to get rid of the virus. They were almost unanimous that countries of the world must be united to combat the virus. As we are currently gripped by corona pandemic, it has exposed the state of our health sector. We often tend to forget the fact that health sector is more important than other sectors as far as contribution to economic development is concerned. If workers are not in sound health production suffers and an active and efficient work force is not possible without sound health.  
While we think of investment in the health sector, we prioritize its social and psychological benefits but undermine its economic impact. We tend to forget that investment in health sector and well-designed policies could bring epoch making changes to our national economy. Taking a patient out to a hospital was an initiative first taken by Ottoman empire, that is, Turkey. Unlike today when treatment at hospitals is regarded as a commodity, it was looked upon as a service in those days. Tragically the health sector of our country has turned into a mechanism for exploitation. Sadly, some foreign organizations are forerunners in this respect. They may be a little advanced, but they do not have solutions for all our health problems. The advent of corona virus has laid bare the inherent weaknesses of western Medicare system in our country.
Appropriate and felicitous investment in our health sector can at least be termed as very few and far between. True, hospitals and health complexes are built with big budgets, but sadly they do neither have sufficient doctors nor have adequate equipment support. Opportunities at government hospitals being limited, hospitals under private initiatives flourished. But that has not eased our problems, rather these institutions have turned into weapons of social repression.  
Looking back to our childhood days, we saw doctors diagnosing by examining physical condition of a patient and unlike today did not call for various pathological tests to be done. It was not that doctors in those days were sharper and more meritorious than those of today. They were only more sincere and used to work with a solemn pledge to serve the people - a phenomenon which is a rarity these days.  
Of late the episode on corona virus kit made by Gono Shyastho Kendro tells us a lot of things. The government is being accused of not extending sufficient cooperation to test the effectiveness of the kit.  
I personally think if at this critical juncture of our history if the government extends sincere cooperation, it can initiate an important chapter in our history which can be termed as 'unity in diversity' as Dr. Zafrullah is also a politician and often differs with the government on many issues. If a person like him can extend cooperation towards the government, the government should graciously agree.    
We generally find that if someone's bitterest enemy extends a helping hand, it creates a situation of closeness that lasts for ever. But the government failed to grab a golden opportunity to win over its adversary. The government could easily have those kits tested and if found effective could accept those kits, because it is not the time now for petty differences, but national unity should be given supreme importance as corona virus is attacking people indiscriminately and we should try and fight it back in unitedly. Our Prime Minister can take this initiative. This can be a noble act of magnanimity
Corona virus has also brought to fore the ancient modes of treatment like, Unani, herbal and other modes of treatment. All these modes could be negotiated for probable corona treatment. In addition, we are always preoccupied with curative medicine, but preventive medicine hardly deserves prominence. We do not recognize preventive medicine which has helped us in the past cure many complex and difficult diseases. Cuba has achieved tremendous success in this respect so much so that health service at a cost of US $400 in Cuba can be had at US$9000 in USA and other developed European countries.
It has been found that preventive treatment is 200% cheaper than curative treatment. We can think of setting up preventive hospitals in areas which are regularly affected by particular diseases at a particular time of the year. This will help us reduce the severity of those diseases. What we lack is a holistic approach or universal treatment system.  
Holistic approach means a follow-up treatment of the family members and/or neighbours of some one affected by (say) tuberculosis. Had our national medical system included a holistic approach, impact of a virus like that of corona would have been much less severe.    
The spread of corona virus has unsettled our socio-economic endeavours so much so that time has come for us to move away from the old, hackneyed and ineffective concepts which are basically borrowed from the west and plan some thing new which is called 'paradise change' or overall change.

(The writer is a TV personality).

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