Islamabad - More than 20 million people in Pakistan, which is around 10 percent of the total population, suffer from brain and neurological problems and disorders.

Despite the fact that the number is much higher than the people suffering from heart diseases, cancer or diabetes, the mental health remains the most neglected field in Pakistan. These alarming figures and the need to promote more public awareness for improved diagnosis and effective mental health treatments in Pakistan were highlighted by Aslam Sheikh, Country Manager for Lundbeck, during a ceremony held to mark Lundbeck’s 100th anniversary, hosted by the Embassy of Denmark.

“In Pakistan, it is very unfortunate that due to shortage of mental health professionals, mental health facilities and relatively low levels of awareness about mental disorders, millions of people and their families suffer every day,” said Sheikh. He also noted that in countries where people are facing social and security challenges such as Pakistan, one sees an increase in anxiety, stress, and trauma, which are contributing factors to the development of mental health issues.

Sheikh shared that Lundbeck established the Lundbeck Institute in 1997 to help reduce the global burden of brain disease by educating healthcare professionals worldwide. He said the Lundbeck is also working with mental health professionals in Pakistan to raise awareness, reduce stigma and contribute to education and better understanding of brain disease in Pakistan. He thanked the Embassy of Denmark for hosting Lundbeck’s 100th anniversary and using the event to create a platform to promote awareness about mental health, the socio-economic costs of brain diseases and the importance of proper mental health treatment in Pakistan.

Addressing the guests, Helle Nielsen, Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy, said that Denmark was proud to be celebrating a prominent Danish company’s 100th anniversary in Pakistan. “Lundbeck is an excellent example of a company that provides sophisticated pharmaceutical remedies to people all over the world, including in Pakistan. Even today, 100 years later, Lundbeck continues to develop products that help patients and societal progression. For any company, the ability to stay relevant and provide value to customers for a century is an extraordinary accomplishment. By hosting this anniversary, we want to acknowledge how Lundbeck has helped hundreds of millions of people and how they have set out to be authentic and true to their values and roots,” she added.

Eminent psychiatrist Prof Fareed Aslam Minhas, head of the Institute of Psychiatry, WHO Collaborating Centre for Mental Health Training and Research, Benazir Bhutto Hospital Rawalpindi, also spoke on the occasion and said that there was a need for collaborative efforts to reduce stigma of mental health in the society. “There is a need for integration of health professionals, industry and policymakers to devise a strategy for better mental health in Pakistan,” said Minhas. He also appreciated Lundbeck for its active role in raising awareness, understanding and training of mental health in Pakistan by fostering the development of new therapies focusing on better treatment for patients suffering from psychiatric illness.

The event was well attended by prominent psychiatrics, doctors, health officials and other key stakeholders.

Lundbeck, a Danish company, is the only pharmaceutical company in the world solely dedicated and entirely focused on research within neuroscience and development and marketing of treatments for brain disease. Lundbeck is the worldwide recognised for having helped hundreds of millions of people suffering from brain disease, such as depression, alcohol dependence, schizophrenia, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. Lundbeck has been operational in Pakistan over the past 30 years.