KARACHI - The World Health Day was marked on Thursday to raise awareness about diseases and take measures to tackle them.

This year Theme of the day was ‘Depression’.

Seizing this opportunity, Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Secretary General Dr SM Qaisar Sajjad said depression was a common and serious medical illness that negatively affected one’s feelings, one’s way of thinking and way of acting. “Fortunately, it is treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed,” he said, and added,

“It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person's ability to function at work and at home.” He said globally depression affected 20 percent of people while in Pakistan it was more serious with an estimate of 34 percent people affected by it.

Elaborating further, PMA Secretary General said that both genetic and environmental factors were responsible for the ailment. “Around 35.7 percent people in Karachi are affected by this mental illness, while 43 percent in Quetta and 53.4 percent in Lahore are affected,” he explained.

He said there were a number of factors that might increase the chances of depression. “Past physical, sexual or emotional abuse can cause depression later in life; certain medications can increase risk of depression. Depression may result from personal conflicts or disputes with family members or friends.

 A family history of depression may increase the risks. Even good events such as starting a new job, graduating or getting married can lead to depression,”

Qaisar said, and added, “So losing a job or income, getting divorced or retiring; problems such as social isolation due to other mental illnesses or being cast out of a family or social group can lead to depression.”

He said that furthermore loadshedding, non-availability of potable water, un-employment, traffic problems, intolerance, insecurity, law and order situation and breaking news were other causes of depression. “These are the factors due to which depression is increasing in our society day by day,” he added. Meanwhile, a seminar on ‘Junk the Junk Food’ was held at Mohammad Ali Jinnah University in connection with the Health Day.

Addressing the participants Dr Faisal Wasim Ismail, Assistant Professor, Agha Khan University Hospital said that junk food was a silent killer which if consumed could lead to hepatitis, abdominal pain and obesity. “One should also avoid drinking water, including beverages with ice of unknown purity, uncooked shellfish, uncooked fruit, vegetables and food whose quality is not known.

Administration Society, Business Manager, AKUH,  Dr Huma Naz, Coordinator , AKUH Fareed Farooq, Director, Student Affairs, MAJU Ahmer Umer also addressed the seminar.

Dr Faisal Wasim said that it was generally understood that the use of soft drinks after meals helped in digesting food. “This is completely wrong,” he said, and added that one bottle of soft drink means that you have taken 25 tea spoon sugars which may lead to diabetes and other diseases.

He asked people to use mineral water or boiled water at home instead, which, he said, was more useful for them.

He emphasised that such foods be avoided that increased gastric acid secretion such as alcohol, tobacco, pepper, caffeine, tea, coffee, and chocolate. 

He informed that 25 percent people suffered from a gastrointestinal disorder while 20 percent suffered from Irritate able Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

He expressed his concern over the use of Gutka and Pan Masalah by youth which, he argued, was the main reason for the spread of mouth cancer.  Dr Faisal Wasim also informed the participant about estimated number of people affected by Hepatitis worldwide every year.