ISLAMABAD: President Dr. Arif Alvi on Thursday said preventive healthcare was the best approach to control diseases and stressed on making the practice a national priority. “Healthcare is often skewed towards curative medicine neglecting the preventive care. Why not make the people aware not to fall ill in the first place?” the president said in his address at a conference titled ‘Contemporary medicines, health technologies & vaccines for emerging public health risks’. The 11th annual public health conference held at Health Services Academy (HSA) focused on improving access to medical services and vaccines to overcome health-related challenges. President Alvi said research had shown that the interventions aimed at prevention and lifestyle changes could significantly control the spread of several communicable diseases. He proposed to train the medical graduates in their first six months on preventive healthcare only, so as to reduce the risk of diseases and burden on the health system. He mentioned that for example, Hepatitis A could be prevented through the use of clean drinking water and sanitation, while the malnutrition and stunting in infants could be controlled through breastfeeding. Also, diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle, he added. The president said awareness among people on the ‘taboo topics’ such as population control and breast cancer could be made by guiding them about the use of contraceptives and self-diagnosis, respectively. He stressed that the threat of emerging health challenges due to pandemic required comprehensive policies and strategies. He appreciated the HSA for rendering services in the domain of public health and emphasized on increasing its impact on society. Parliamentary Secretary for Health Dr. Nausheen Hamid said increased access to health products was important in developing public confidence in the country’s health system. She said for the first time, the HSA had inducted a batch of Afghan students in different disciplines to enable them to deliver better health services in their country. Vice-Chancellor University of Health Sciences, Lahore, Prof Dr. Javed Akram said in the wake of the pandemic, the world was facing the challenges of discrimination in access to vaccines. On the COVID-19 vaccines, he said the antigens generated an immune response in the body and the booster doses left a waning effect on the virus. He said a research conducted by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on 600,000 people showed that the unvaccinated individuals were at 11 times higher risk of death than the vaccinated people. He stressed on reshaping the global health priorities as the world population could be at the risk of mortality “not by missiles, but microbes”. Dean of Health Services Academy (HSA) Dr. Shehzad Ali Khan said for the first time in Pakistan, the HSA had initiated a Bachelor of Science in Public Health Services and also in Midwifery. He mentioned that following the proposal by the Organization of Islamic Countries’ COMSTECH, the HSA had accepted to be included in the Public Health Secretariat for 57 Islamic countries to support research and training. Later, the president visited the stalls and poster exhibition related to health, organized in the premises of Health Services Academy.