South Asian health: what is to be done?BMJ 2004; 328 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.328.7443.838 (Published 01 April 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:838
Peace is a must
- Malvinder S Parmar (), medical director, internal medicine
EDITOR—Despite diverse cultures, religions, and languages, the healthcare problems of South Asia are essentially similar—infectious illnesses (malaria, tuberculosis, diarrhoea, etc), low birth weight, malnutrition, and increased maternal and infant mortality. These are related to illiteracy, poor sanitation, crowding, poverty, and unrest in the region and the individual countries. The fundamental problem is the failure of the governing systems in individual countries to allocate appropriate funds to public health and education.
If appropriate steps are taken by the governments to support education and public health programmes effectively and the limited funds are effectively used, most of the health problems could be eliminated. Education of the public (family planning, improving nutrition, and sanitation), healthcare providers, and political leaders (to support education and public health programmes) is the most important step in improving the health of the region.
However, for the individual countries to support such programmes a peaceful environment is a must and the threat of war needs to be eliminated through effective discussion and collaboration among various political and religious leaders of the South Asian countries, with support from the West. A binding peace accord among members of diverse cultures and religions would be important. So long as the threat of war remains, these countries would continue to shift their limited resources to causes that not only damage the health of the nation further but also prevent maintaining simple and effective measures to combat these common problems.
The people of South Asia have more similarities than differences, and we all need to work together towards maintaining peace inside and outside the region that would help divert limited resources of the nations to the meaningful cause—to improve health of the region.
Competing interests None declared.