Exposure to Electromagnetic Radiation One of Factors Responsible for Rise in Number of Cases of Neurosurgical Problems

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The number of cases with neurosurgical problems in Pakistan, including brain and spinal tumors, is on the rise, at least over the last 10 years, putting a huge financial burden on healthcare facilities and families having patients with neurological disorders. There are 120 million mobile phone users in Pakistan, population 190.3 million (July 2011).

Professor of neurosurgery and consultant neurosurgeon at the Quaid-i-Azam International Hospital Dr. Aslan Javed Munir said that apart from genetic factors, exposure to electromagnetic radiations mainly by living under high tension cables, use of mobile phones, impurities through petrochemical industries, X-ray radiations, viruses, previous history of traumas and effect of pesticides usage on agricultural products are considered as the main risk factors behind the increase in neurological disorders.

Cases of neurosurgical problems on the rise
by Muhammad Qasim from The News, Ralawpindi, 27 July 2012:

The number of cases with neurosurgical problems, including brain and spinal tumours, is on the rise, at least for the last one decade, putting a huge financial burden on healthcare facilities and families having patients with neurological disorders.

Talking to ‘The News,’ professor of neurosurgery and consultant neurosurgeon at the Quaid-i-Azam International Hospital Dr. Aslan Javed Munir said that it is alarming that the number of cases with neurological problems, including patients with complaints of backache, neck ache and slipped discs along with brain and spinal tumours, has been on the rise in Pakistan as well as across the globe.

“Nearly 10 years back, we rarely received patients requiring neurosurgical procedures but now the influx of patients with neurosurgical problems has increased to a great extent,” said Colonel (r) Dr. Aslan Javed Munir, former head of the Department of Neurosurgery at CMH, Rawalpindi.

He added that the cases of neurosurgical problems, right from neurosurgical trauma including head and spinal injuries to tumours, have increased. “The traumas increased mainly because of increase in road traffic accidents and general violence while routine spinal problems have also been on the rise because of unhealthy lifestyles.” He explained that every four out of five adults are having routine neurological disorders including back or neck pains during some part of their life, which is because of unhealthy life styles including unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, obesity, lack of exercise and stress. Odd working hours, sitting postures, watching TV and long hours working on computers are contributing a lot in increase in number of patients, said Dr. Aslan.

It is important that a number of health experts working at the allied hospitals do admit that none of the allied hospitals including Holy Family Hospital, Benazir Bhutto Hospital and District Headquarters Hospital is capable of treating ideally the patients with neurosurgical trauma or brain and spinal tumours because of lack of diagnostic and surgical equipment and staff required for the purpose.

The neurosurgical procedures are much expensive and almost unaffordable for a large proportion of population across Pakistan. There is a need of developing centres that can provide free of cost treatment to poor and needy patients requiring neurosurgical procedures, said Dr. Aslan while responding to a query.

He said that he is working on a plan of conducting at least every 10th surgery free of cost to accommodate poor patients. “I have also a desire to develop a centre to provide free of cost treatment facility to poor patients requiring surgeries in result of trauma or neurological disorders yet it needs a huge budget,” said Dr. Aslan.

To a query, he said that apart from genetic factors, exposure to electromagnetic radiations mainly by living under high tension cables, use of mobile phones, impurities through petrochemical industries, X-ray radiations, viruses, previous history of traumas and effect of pesticides usage on agricultural products are considered as the main risk factors behind increase in neurological disorders.

“By taking certain preventive measures both at the government and individual levels, the number of cases with neurological problems including traumas can be minimised,” said Dr. Aslan. One should avoid odd sitting and sleeping postures and should avoid sitting for long hours unnecessarily in front of computers. Also there is a need to develop habit of daily exercise or walk while unhealthy lifestyles including junk food and obesity should be avoided, he suggested.

Dr. Aslan added that the government should take steps to create awareness among public on how to minimise the main risk factors causing increase in number of cases. To minimise the impact of road traffic accidents, one should wear helmet when on bike while the use of seat belts and air bags in cars can also minimise the number of head and spinal trauma in case of accidents, he said.

Dr. Aslan said that like the developed countries, early reporting of symptoms related to neurological problems including continuous headache, sight problems and pains related to spine can be helpful in reducing the incidence of brain and spinal tumours.

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