An important article written by Dr Zafar Mirza was published in Dawn today putting physical health of mentally ill in the spotlight. The article highlights that more often than not, physical illness accompaniments in mentally ill people are ignored.
We know the high mortality rate among people with mental illness is not due to mental illness per se, rather it is the result of the coexistence or co-morbidity of physical health problems, such as cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic and infectious diseases and cancer. As the article notes, many Dawn readers might find it surprising to know that people with mental illness don’t live as long than the general population.
The article goes on to reference the important research that continues to be done by our research teams in South Asia, for example where the physical problems of mentally ill patients, including those with severe mental illness is being studied in the wake of Covid-19 by the IMPASS Study.
The work of the Centre continues to improve our understanding of how to protect physical health in people with mental illness. Dr Zafar Mirza’s article recognized essential work from members of the IMPACT team who, as part of the Lancet Psychiatry Commission in 2019, published “a blueprint for protecting physical health in people with mental illness”.
Firth J, Siddiqi N, Koyanagi A, et al. The Lancet Psychiatry Commission: a blueprint for protecting physical health in people with mental illness. Lancet Psychiatry. 2019;6(8):675-712. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(19)30132-4
Dr Zafar Mirza is a former Pakistani politician who served as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Health and is currently serving as a Professor of Health System and Population Health at Shifa Tameer-e-Millat University (STMU) in Islamabad. He has long standing experience of working at national, regional and global levels in public and private health sectors.