Over four million couples infertile in Pakistan: experts

M. Waqar Bhatti
Saturday, May 21, 2022

MALAM JABBA, Swat: Around four million couples are infertile in Pakistan and in most cases, males have been found responsible due to low testosterone levels, alcohol, smoking, obesity and use of illicit drugs among other factors, but unfortunately, in most of the cases women are blamed for infertility, national and international health experts told a moot on Friday.

They said males were 40 per cent responsible for infertility due to certain health conditions, their lifestyle and other factors but claimed that if treated properly, 70 per cent of infertile couples could manage to have children.

Terming obesity and overweight as ‘mother of diseases’ including infertility, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and others, they advised people in Pakistan to walk at least 10,000 steps to avoid diabetes, mental health issues, cardiovascular and other preventable ailments.

They were speaking at the 8th Midsummer Endocrine Updates Conference of the Pakistan Endocrine Society (PES), titled ‘Endocrinology for the Future’, underway at the hill station of Malam Jabba in Swat, where hundreds of endocrinologists from different cities of Pakistan as well as abroad are presenting their research papers on different aspects of the endocrinology.

Delivering a lecture on ‘Evaluation of an Interfile Couple’ Prof. Dr Jaweed Akhtar from the US informed that the prevalence of infertility is around 22 per cent in Pakistan as compared to 12-18 per cent worldwide, adding that it is believed that around 4 million couples are infertile while 40-70 per cent males are believed to be responsible for infertility.

Prof. Jaweed, the former chief of endocrinology at Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) Karachi, maintained that infertility is not just a female problem but deplored that often women are made scapegoats for not having kids although in most cases, their male partners are diagnosed and treated for such causes, which deprive them of having kids.

“Infertility often has severe psychological impacts, especially on women who may suffer from severe depression, anger, anxiety, and blaming each other for infertility may lead to marital discord and separation”, he added.

In his presidential address, Pakistan Endocrine Society (PES) Dr Ibrar Ahmed termed diabetes a national emergency and said endocrinologists across Pakistan should join hands and support their society in dealing with this menace, which is making young Pakistanis disabled at a rapid pace.

“Diabetes is a national health emergency as the number of people with diabetes doubled in Pakistan within the last three-four years.

We cannot treat such a large number of diabetics with our meagre resources, so the only option available to us is creating diabetes awareness with all the means at our disposal”, Dr Ibrar said and urged the government and media to support the Pakistan Endocrine Society (PES) in this regard.

He informed that they have signed MoUs with provincial governments and private organizations but this menace could not be controlled. “We are striving for a National Diabetes Prevention Program to prevent our youth from getting obese by drastically changing their lifestyles”, he added.

Renowned German Endocrinologist Prof. Dr Peter Schwarz urged the healthcare professionals, media and authorities to promote physical activity, saying walking 10,000 steps in a day should be mandatory for every person, adding that even a person with diabetes can effectively control diabetes by a thousand steps in addition to 10,000 mandatory steps in a day.

He further called for discouraging the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages including carbonated drinks, juices and energy drinks. Prof. Schwarz said taking regular soft drinks once a day for a year also increases the risk of contracting diabetes manifolds and urged the authorities in countries like Pakistan to increase the taxes on such drinks.

“Walking away from the diabetes is the message every endocrinologist should be giving to their patients as well as healthy citizens”, he suggested.

Several other experts including Dr Asad Rahim from UK Dr Sumerah Jabeen from Karachi, Dr Shehla Tabassum from Lahore, Dr Dina Shrestha from Nepal, Dr Charles Antonypillai from Sri Lanka, Dr Abbas Raza from Lahore, Ali Asghar from Karachi and Prof. Dr Ali Jawa also spoke.

A symbolic walk was also held to highlight the importance of physical activity for the prevention of diabetes, mental health and cardiovascular disease.