The World Health Day was celebrated Saturday with the slogan: Invest in health, build a better future. The focus this year is on combating communicable diseases like avian influenza, malaria, tuberculosis and Hepatitis B. In order to meet that goal, say regional health experts, there needs to be greater coordination between regional, national and international healthcare institutions. This is also necessary because inter-country transfer of epidemics between SAARC member states remains a high probability.

Lack of awareness, poverty, dearth of clean drinking water and climate change are all contributing to the rise in communicable diseases across the region. In this regard, the government is implementing the updated version of International Health Regulation, which seeks to fight epidemics on a global scale by reaching the poor people. For this purpose, there is a need to develop rural infrastructure and to lure medical professionals to the villages with added pay and perks. Likewise, the level of awareness about healthcare should be increased among the rural people who often neglect early symptoms of diseases. Say healthcare experts, at least 10 per cent of the national budget should be set aside for the heath sector to meet the basic healthcare needs of the country. It can only be hoped that with the end of the decade-long conflict, vital sectors like health and education will get bigger budgets and greater attention of the government.