The Express Tribune Editorial 25 July 2020
Supporting trans persons
The government, in association with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Population Fund and civil society members, has reached out to the transgender community in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi to provide them with material support. The federal human rights ministry, which operates a National Implementation Committee, conducted a preliminary socio-economic rapid needs assessment to identify coronavirus-affected people belonging to the trans community.
Led by people who are transgender themselves, 75 people in the twin cities who are transgender were surveyed. Thereafter, 120 bags of rations were distributed amongst members of the community. According to the federal human rights minister, the government is trying to improve the living conditions of these people. Provincial consultative meetings have been conducted in all four provinces to reduce the trans-phobic stigma and discrimination with the transgender community.
This is a very welcome step as these people are suffering in silence — mostly relying on performing in events or seeking alms on the streets or doing other odds and ends. No one gives them a job either, mostly because people cannot accept them for who they are and because many people who are transgender do not possess the requisite education.
On that end, however, there was a shift recently by the Punjab police who, when advertising new posts in the police department, expanded eligibility to people who are transgender. A dedicated cell to resolve complaints of people who are transgender was also set up there. In the federal capital, the largest tertiary hospital there, the Pakistan Institute of the Medical Sciences has dedicated beds for such people. People who are transgender, like the rest of us, are humans and are entitled to inviolable right to pursue happiness how they see fit. The government realises that and has embarked in a welcome direction.
Covid-19 and depression
The novel coronavirus has brought in its wake depression and anxiety as people are afraid of catching it because of its contagious nature, and the need to avoid social interaction to protect from it. So to ward off the fear and the boredom produced by prolonged isolation from society, one should try to laugh off things. This, however, should be done in a rational way, that is, not by disregarding precautions and throwing all caution to the wind.
The World Neurosurgical Society marked the World Brain Day on July 22, and this year the discourse mainly focused on the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on brain and mental health. Specialist physicians say people are increasingly consulting them, and most of them fear that they might catch the coronavirus and resultantly growing anxiety and depression due to this morbid fear and also due to living away from society. People above the age of 50 are more prone to contracting the virus and those aged 60 to 80 are vulnerable to Parkinson’s, dementia and stroke — diseases associated with the brain. So it is people from this age group who should be more careful about preventive measures against the deadly virus. Also, it is these people who are afraid of contracting Covid-19 and consequently anxiety and depression.
Experts advise intake of nutritious food and healthy mental activity as they say these are the best precautions against the coronavirus and also keep depression and anxiety away. They advise older people to increase the intake of leafy vegetables, fruits and fish, as these food items help control diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol. Besides, physical activity and light exercise also helps. Collectively, we should avoid talking unnecessarily about the virus, because this adds to the fear of people catching the virus. If you continuously think of getting billions of dollars, you get it. Above all, laughter is the best medicine. No one has ever died of laughter.