Catching it early

By Zubeida Mustafa

55-05-06-1991

‘A’ has breast cancer. A few years ago this diagnosis would have amounted to sounding the death knell for her. Not so today. Doctors give ‘A’ an excellent prognosis, the very high rate of mortality from this disease notwithstanding.

‘A’ stands a good chance of survival because her cancer was discovered at a very early stage. In fact, when surgery was performed on her, the tumour in her breast was not even palpable — that is it could not be felt.

Now ‘A”s surgeon, Dr Shaista Khan of the Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, is optimistic that the disease has been checked since it was confined to the breast cells and had not spread.

It was a mammogramme (an Xray of the breast) taken during a routine examination that showed up the malignant lesion, making diagnosis possible.

What was extraordinary about ‘A’s’ case was the overly cooperative and understanding approach of her husband, who virtually pushed her into being screened for breast cancer. “Normally not all husbands have that attitude,” says Dr Shaista Khan. Continue reading “Catching it early”

Development of human resources an elusive dream

By Zubeida Mustafa

Exactly a week before the Federal Finance Minister presented the budget before the National Assembly, the UNDP released its Human Development Report 1991 which contains extensive data on 160 countries.

Using the key indicators of life expectancy, education levels and basic purchasing power as the criteria, the agency has devised the Human Development Index. Pakistan ranked a shocking 120th on this scale. In fact Islamabad, along with some others, was strongly castigated for its gross neglect of the social sector.

What the UNDP had pointed out a week earlier was vindicated on Thursday by the federal budget. Long on rhetorics and promises of providing food, shelter, education and health care to the people, the Finance Minister’s speech was palpably short on political commitment.

56-03-06-1991b

This was further confirmed by the budget document itself. Small wonder then that in his speech Mr Sartaj Aziz deemed it wiser not to go into financial details of spendings in the health and education sectors.

In the first place, the approach adopted by the government towards the social sector is full of contradictions. By extending the strategy of privatisation and deregulation to the education and health sectors as well, the planners hope to accelerate the tempo of development. Continue reading “Development of human resources an elusive dream”