Getz Pharma and Tabba Heart Institute, in order to address the issue of the rising health burden of ASCVD in Pakistan, are entering into a Joint Venture Agreement for the largest, first-of-its-kind, longitudinal cohort study on Atherosclerotic Risk Assessment in Pakistani Population. This study aims to recruit healthy volunteers aged 30 years or older, from selected urban and rural areas of Pakistan, who are asymptomatic and have no cardiovascular disease. This would allow for assessing the participants’ risk factor profiles and follow them up for at least 10 years to document the incidence of ASCVD.
Pakistan is the second-most populous country in South Asia, but most of the data on the prevalence of ASCVD from South Asian regions is derived from India. As a result, the Pakistani population is highly underrepresented in global research as there is currently no comprehensive database on the native Pakistani population to assess the likelihood of developing ASCVD. Due to this high burden of disease, there is an urgent need for primary prevention and early screening for ASCVD in Pakistan.
About one-fourth of the world’s population, living in the South Asian region, are at an increased risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases (ASCVD). Although Western countries have made significant progress in reducing the global health burden of ASCVD, the prevalence of the disease continues to rise in South Asian countries, and ASCVD remains a leading cause of death.
Research shows that South Asians tend to have a higher likelihood of developing risk factors leading to ASCVD, develop cardiovascular events at an earlier age, as well as have higher mortality compared to White populations, according to multiple population-based studies. This higher incidence of ASCVD amongst South Asians can be attributed to various biological and lifestyle-related factors. However, most of the studies conducted so far have focused on migrant South Asian populations residing in the West, causing a large gap in the data for Pakistan-specific prevalence of ASCVD.
During the MoU signing ceremony, Khalid Mahmood shared his opening remarks for this initiative, “As a pharmaceutical company, research is something we all depend on to develop medicines. Hence, investing in primary healthcare is crucial, especially for a country like Pakistan which spends a minuscule percentage of its GDP on healthcare, much less than what is required for it to spend, as per WHO recommendations. There is a need for developing nations to invest more in primary health compared to tertiary healthcare and prevent diseases before they become an added burden on our hospitals.”
Dr. Bashir Hanif added, “I can’t thank Getz Pharma enough for supporting this research. This is going to be a landmark study, which no one else has done in Pakistan before. It will help shed light on the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases amongst the younger, native Pakistani population under 40 years of age. There is a long way to go, but we hope that we will be able to accomplish this task via dedication and teamwork.”
So far, Getz Pharma has contributed 0.5 million USD to this longitudinal study. In addition, Getz Pharma and Tabba Health Institute will collectively raise a further 1.5 million USD over the course of the 10-year initiative.
The findings from a study of this scale can provide groundbreaking results in the long run, as it would help in informing future health policy targeting the native Pakistani population, and it would also allow early interventions for patients with risk of ASCVD from a younger age. Getz Pharma and Tabba Heart Institute are proud to lead an initiative of this scale with the aim to contribute to the growing research database in Pakistan and promote early screening and prevention for cardiovascular diseases in the country.
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