As TV channels flashed news announcing a nationwide lockdown to control the spread of COVID-19 cases in Pakistan, a sense of fear came upon Shahbaz Khan Mughal.
“It was not fear of the novel coronavirus but of the diabetes I have been living with for many years,” he said.
As the lockdown progressed, I was stuck in a miserable spot. I lost business and there was no income to buy my monthly medication costing approximately 4,500 Pakistani rupees. Even if I could arrange the money for it, there was no means to go to a health-care facility for the necessary tests or consultation,” added Mughal.
With five children to feed, Mughal chose to spend his savings on caring for the family while taking only half the required dose of his medicines so that the stock at home would last longer.
Living in the small village of Panjgra, in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the 42-year-old businessman was not the only one caught in this predicament. Based on the National Diabetes Survey of Pakistan reports (2016–2017), about 26.3 per cent of the population has diabetes and the pandemic has only increased their vulnerability.
While, on one hand, diabetic patients are among those at a higher risk of developing complications due to COVID-19, on the other hand the sudden suspension of outpatient services in hospitals without suitable alternatives has made vital health care inaccessible to them.
Adding to this, loss of income due to economic slowdown has restricted many patients like Mughal from buying medicines, accessing monitoring equipment and maintaining a healthy diet.
Source : Icrc