We have entered into the age of sustainable development goals (SDG), and this time is very critical, particularly for our target of making societies inclusive.
The inequalities and financial burdens in health care, which are unfair and unjust, are some of the current concerns of public health professionals.
About 14% of the global disease burden is related to neuropsychiatric disorders — mostly depression. According to the WHO, about 6.4 million people are suffering from depressive disorders in Bangladesh, which is a very big number.
Unfortunately in Pakistan, due to social stigma and lack of awareness, mental health patients are often advised to visit local healers instead of seeking professional help.
Evidence says depression is often a result of social exclusion and discrimination and can lead to sufferers developing suicidal tendencies. Vulnerable populations are more at risk as they frequently face exclusion and discrimination from mainstream society.
One of the biggest challenges in implementing evidence-based interventions is that factors such as ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, etc are not considered during data interpretation, thus pushing the vulnerable further to the fringes.
We need to reorient our health workforce to motivate them to work in diverse conditions and situations geared towards a rights-based approach rather than focusing only on physical wellbeing. In order to ensure inclusivity, health care providers need to rise above stigma, exclusion, and preconceived notions, and treat communities based on equity and not just equality
Vulnerable populations are not asking for any additional rights but the same rights that we are all enjoying. To manifest the changes we want, we first require rigorous political scrutiny and attainable commitments.
We must also put forward human rights and social justice agendas and do everything we can to address the inequalities and unmet needs until we have an inclusive health care system in Pakistan
By: Muhammad Afzal Uddin (Editor)