Merchant Of Death

By: Syed Ahmed Raza

Over the decades, a massive rise has been observed in use of health hazard articles in our country. Pakistan is counted amongst the largest tobacco consuming countries in South Asia.

In Pakistan, highest Gutkha consumption is cited in province of Sindh. Figures reveal some that, only in Karachi, 45,000 Kg gutkha is being sold daily, about 1500 Kg in Thatta and around 2000-2500 Kg in Badin District.

Hyderabad stands second in the row with 10,000 to 12,000 Kg daily. The demand of Gutka is so high in Hyderabad that some cabins are selling 200-250 Kg of gutkha daily.

To make it worst, more than thirty Indian brands of Gutkha-Supari are openly available in market. Gutkha-Supari in huge quantity is brought to Afghanistan first and then it comes to Quetta, from where it is then supplied to other parts of the country.

This poisonous concoction is sold at low price range of Rs 2-10 per satche, but still the amount of business on route between Quetta and Karachi is estimated about one billion rupees.Though, ministry of commerce, shipping and health has disbanded it, yet the huge amount of money attracts senior officials of concerned law enforcement departments which are indulged in helping to continue this illegal business on a very large scale.

According to reports, gutkha and Supari Gutkha chewing is 50 times more dangerous than smoking and a major cause behind cancer and cardiac illness.

The repeated use of this substance leads to many medical problems like, heart attack and infertility etcetera. The biggest argument made against the consumption of gutkha, is that it is the leading cause of oral cancer across the country.

“Gutkha contains heavy amounts of magnesium as well as calcium carbonate which are very toxic chemicals,” said Dr Nouman Hassan, a noted ENT surgeon civil hospital Hyderabad.

He said 70 to 75 percent cases of oral cancers are due to consuming gutkha and beetle nut, due to use of these health hazardous products many people in Pakistan are becoming victim of sub mucous fibrosis, a condition in which opening of jaws is gradually limited.

The highest prevalence rate of all head and neck cancers is noted in Sindh, which is 22.6 percent, is a certain result of exceeded use of Gutkha and other toxic stuff. The Nuclear Institute of Medical Radiotherapy, Hyderabad, cited that 3,000 cancer patients are registered each year.

In order to prevent the rising consumption of Gutkha, government must adopt a condemnatory attitude and measure steps must be taken against the corrupt officials who let the trade of death happen under the umbrella of their powers.