A young man living with CAH in Australia is inspired by the story of a young man living with CAH in Pakistan...

A young man living with CAH in Australia is inspired by the story of a young man living with CAH in Pakistan...

Please take a moment to listen to Salman Munir's story.

Many thanks to Katie Hunsberger for her interview and to Joe Hansen for his blog.

My name is Joe Hansen, I am 16 years old living in Sydney, Australia and I have CAH (Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia). Hearing about Salman’s story living with CAH in Pakistan has been both sobering and inspirational. There were 3 things that stood out for me most of all: the complete difference in how CAH has impacted Salman’s life; how living with CAH has shaped the sort of person Salman is, and how he is using his condition to be able to affect change in Pakistan.

Being born in the centre of Sydney, in a high-income country with access to medicine, testing facilities and support networks for both myself and my parents, I have never had an issue dealing with CAH and I cannot say that I “suffer” from it. It is sad to hear how Salman had so many questions when he was younger about how to deal with CAH. For me, when the endocrinologists found I had CAH, there was information readily available from books and from other doctors about the best way to deal with the condition and I always knew that as long as my Hydrocortisone and Fludrocortisone levels were properly maintained I would not have any major issues with my health or development. Because of how easy my life has been as a result of having access to information and treatment, I found it very sad to hear how so many people in developing nations, both parents and children, are not able to live comfortably with the condition and what a burden living with CAH can be.

The second point that spoke to me from Salman’s story was how he has had to deal with CAH as he has grown up. The bullying and stigma associated with a non-communicable disease (NCD) such as CAH does not exist in my world. The isolation that Salman has felt throughout his life because of CAH seemed incredibly unjust to me. While typical teenage issues of self-consciousness and a lack of self-confidence is understandable, the fact having an NCD can alienate people even further from society is an issue that I did not realise existed for others, simply because of the fact that I have been fortunate enough to have guidance and professional medical advice on how to live so that CAH is not impacting my life to a serious extent.

Awareness was a key theme that Salman spoke about throughout his speech - awareness amongst friends and teachers as to what CAH and NCDs are and how living with NCDs affects a person; the need to raise awareness within the Pakistani community about the need to better educate and care for people living with NCDs; and the value of raising awareness within CAH communities so people know how to live with CAH so it doesn't influence their lives to a serious and detrimental effect. While the need for awareness is common for NCD communities worldwide, it seems especially important for communities such as Pakistan where help is not readily available, because once awareness of NCDs occurs, further support is sure to follow.

The final thing that struck me from the speech was what an amazing person Salman is for his drive to better the lives of other people in his same situation. Using CAH as an inspiration to decide to go into medicine and have it guide his career choice was only one amazing thing about him. Salman is also asking questions about the future of NCDs in Pakistan and how to draw the community closer and together abolish the stigmas around NCDs. He is committed to raising awareness about issues in the community, and believes that in time these efforts will generate change. Salman’s wish, to encourage people to speak up about NCDs and to stop labelling people around them all speak volumes to him as he tries to work for others, bringing about a better future for children in Pakistan living with NCDs. It is obvious that there are many issues within the Pakistani NCD community, but with leaders like Salman in it, I'm left feeling encouraged that there are sustainable, grass-roots solutions coming that will make a better future.

Overall, it has been excellent to listen to Salman’s story about living with CAH in Pakistan. The issues that so many people face worldwide, relating to education and awareness of the conditions they live with were taken for granted by myself and I’m sure others in developed nations. To learn about people such as Salman, dedicating their lives to inspire others to lead better lives makes me proud to be in a small way connected to them and makes me want to learn more about how others are living with CAH around the world and how I can help to bring awareness and education to their situation.