Between 1% to 2% of Pakistanis are estimated to have Schizophrenia, which is a brain disorder whose symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, trouble with thinking or concentration, and a lack of motivation.
Writing in the Lancet, Shahzain Hasan and Munsif Adil pointed out that we do not know exactly how many people have it which makes it difficult to combat it.
An estimated 21 million people have it worldwide, and most of them are not receiving the proper care. Many patients live in developing countries, including Pakistan, they write.
Schizophrenia affects the patient and their family. Many patients are abandoned even and become homeless. “These scenarios result in first-episode psychosis not being treated,” they write.
Part of the problem is that most Pakistanis do not know about Schizophrenia. Many people think the symptoms are the result of black magic or possession.
“Instead of consulting a psychiatrist they seek treatment from faith-based healers,” Hasan and Adil write. “Sometimes patients are beaten by a so-called therapist with the notion that they are inflicting pain to an evil spirit and not to the patient.”
Some non-profit organisations are working on it. For example, the Fountain House Network in Lahore offers not only treatment but also rehabilitation.