Sanitation, Health and Shelter Profile of Pakistan

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Sanitation, Health and Shelter Profile of Pakistan

By: Rida Zainab Kharal

The term sanitation generally refers to the availability of proper resources to dispose of human waste; mainly feces, urine and hospital used utensils. It also includes maintaining hygienic conditions through garbage collection plus water disposal d to the World Health Organization. According to a report published by Media Scrapbook, Pakistan has the worst sanitation conditions in the South Asian Region. Moreover, this results with a negative impact on the economy of the state i.e. Rs 343 billion loss from the Gross Domestic Product. In Pakistan, with exception to developed cities the system of sewerage is almost not existent. Outdoor open toilets are common in the rural areas, municipal garbage collection network is poor and awaits a savior, open drains are common and most of the sewerage water is dumped in crops or vegetation in villages. The available drainage system in the cities is so poorly designed that it dumps waste either into canals or rivers, no covered main drainage system in cities. In addition to this, the country lacks an efficient system of disposal of hospital wastes; the most dangerous and disease causing waste that includes pipes, injections and surgery instruments. 45% of population lacks access to proper indoor toilets, only 51% are connected to the existing poor drainage system and only 5% have access to municipal garbage collection service.

Besides general sanitation, women in Pakistan face dire issues regarding menstrual hygiene and sanitation in Pakistan. They lack awareness about the use of sanitation products or even if they are aware they fail to purchase them due to low income and high rates of the sanitation products. They are left to use old clothes, wood carvings, soil or even ash to soak up the menstrual blood unaware of the fact that this will surely lead them to infections or other serious genital problems. It is like 30% of women in Pakistan do not even know if such hygiene and sanitation products even exist or not.  

The Pakistani Culture: Unity in Diversity

When it comes to health, Pakistan is riddled with numerous problems, constraints and contradictions; Pakistan is the 6th largest state by its population, 70% of this population lives in rural areas; the place where medical professionals are reluctant to go due to lack of proper hospitals in rural areas coupled with low salaries.  The doctor to population ratio in Pakistan is as low as 1 : 1801 in urban and as low as 1 : 2589 in rural areas. Only 23% hospitals are located in rural areas containing 70% of the country’s population every 40 minutes a mother loses her life in Pakistan due to complications in child birth. Diseases like cholera, measles, cancer, angina, diabetes, respiratory infections, asthma, hypertension, diarrhea, mumps, dengue, malaria, tuberculosis, polio, rickets, scurvy, stunting and malnutrition are common.

Further according to a survey carried out by Transparent Hands, Pakistan faces a backlog of more than ten million surgeries every year. They either have to sell their valuable items or sped a lifetime earning to spend on their surgery those who cannot afford either rely on the quacks available in their areas or wait in the never ending lines of the government hospitals waiting for their turn that mostly comes after their death or complete failure of their effected organs. Pakistan is a country that is ranked the third least in the world with respect to its spending on health sector. Organ transplant centers hardly exist in the country only handful hospitals with certified doctors to treat cancer are there and these hospitals due to being overly crowded than their capacity fail to deliver.

As far as shelter is concerned a considerable chunk of Pakistan’s population lives in low standard Katchi Abaadis either in the sides of open main drains or around sewerage disposal areas, mostly. The flux of urbanization has increased the number of people migrating to the urban areas has caused a serious shortage of proper shelter in the country. The reason behind the problem has its roots in the hands of the capitalists, the blood suckers of poor man, the business interest groups who aim at developing low concentration societies on agricultural land, placing town planning at stake. According to a survey carried out in Lahore, 66% population of the city can afford only 1% of the houses available in the city that is named as the heart of Punjab. Pakistan has a backlog of around 4.5 million houses in which a chunk of five lac more houses is added every year. Moreover, the houses people live in the rural areas lack even the basic necessities of life including absence of proper indoor sewerage disposal toilet and water pump to collect pure drinkable clean water from the ground. They further lack electricity, access to proper infrastructure and navigation. In most of the houses in rural areas there are almost no facilities of life, there are villages in Pakistan that do not even have electricity connections. Sanitation is poor, there are a few or simply no parks, proper town planning hardly exists and hospitals or medical centers are far away.

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