FAISALABAD: Speakers at a seminar on Monday called for taking steps to combat environmental hazards and to adopt healthy lifestyles to reduce diseases and mortality rate, saying that 3.8 million people died from diabetes and 1.37 million from cancer each year.
They were attending a one-day symposium titled One Health, arranged by the US Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Agriculture and Food Security, the University of Agriculture Faisalabad, at the new Senate Hall. Pakistan Council for Science and Technology chairman Anwarul Hassan Gilani chaired the session. Vice Chancellor Iqrar Ahmad Khan, Punjab Medical College Principal Alfareed Zafar, Dr Qurban Ali, Dr Muhammad Ashghar from the PMC, Dr Kashif Saleem and Dr Imran Arshad from the UAF, Dr Rubina Tabassum from the Punjab Institute of Nuclear Medicine also spoke on the occasion.
Gilani said the changing lifestyles, junk food and lack of physical activity were causing obesity. This could be the root cause of many diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, he said. Diabetes mellitus today is the sixth leading cause of death, he said, killing 3.8 million people each year. Gilani said two-thirds of them were in the developing countries. He said plenty of food, high caloric intake, dependence on impure and processed foods, a sedentary life style, environmental factors and pollutants were posing serious threat to the people. He said eight million people were hospitalised each year for the ailments caused by side effects of prescription drugs. Commenting on utility of native herbs, he said nothing was better than using ginger for curing stomach disorders. He said garlic saved one from cardiovascular diseases and ginkgo from old age dementia.
Khan said the county was producing surplus food. Still, he said, 40 per cent of its population was malnourished. He said the lack of awareness, affordability issue and unhealthy lifestyles caused malnutrition.
The vice chancellor said that in the 19th century, the subcontinent had faced famine and extreme hunger. “On the recommendations of Famine Commission in late 19th century, the Punjab Agricultural Education and Research Institute (now UAF) was established. Today, we have abundant food.”
He said the purpose of One Health programme was to attenuate the stream of patients. He said it was essential to keep the environment clean.
Zafar said Pakistan had emerged as a polio-free country. He stressed the need for presenting oneself for accountability. He said that dengue, zika and Congo fever viruses were spreading due to lack of cleanness. He said the government was making all-out effort to ensure people had access to life-saving drugs. Zafar called for creating awareness about the hazard of over-population.
Faculty of Veterinary Sciences Dean Zafar Iqbal said that such sessions aimed at raising the awareness. He said that people must be educated about healthy lifestyles and foods.