The 10th Pollen Allergy Camp for relief of patients suffering from pollen allergy in Islamabad and its surrounding areas will be held at the Community Centre in Aabpara from April 3 till May 10.
This information was shared in a meeting held Friday under the chairmanship of the Chief Commissioner of Islamabad Tariq Pirzada. The meeting was co-chaired by Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, director of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), and renowned allergy and asthma specialist Dr. Mohammad Osman Yusuf.
The Pollen Allergy Camp was first held in 2004 and was the brainchild of the then chief commissioner Chaudhry Junaid Iqbal. Since then, the camp has become an annual feature where free medicines, medical advice and emergency treatment is provided to several thousand patients every year.
The camp, which has gained popularity due to the availability of doctors trained in allergy and asthma management, attracts patients, not only from Islamabad, but all over the country. This year, the camp is being held later than usual since it was previously known that the allergy season would start late.
Delivering the opening remarks, Pirzada thanked all donors who support the camp in the form of donations of medicines and supplies, as well as manpower and human resource. In addition to medical doctors trained by Dr. Osman, teams of qualified ‘hakeems’ and ‘homeopathic’ doctors are also available at the camp. Treatment through ‘hikmat’ is led by Hakeem Rizwan Malik, chairman of the National Tibb Council, and through homeopathy by Dr. Nasir of Capital Homeopathic Medical College.
Addressing the meeting, Tariq Pirzada expressed satisfaction that the trend of free pollen allergy camps established by his predecessors has been copied by many organisations in Islamabad, and that despite the increasing number of such camps, the popularity of the ICT camp continues to increase.
Dr. Nasir pointed out that many patients visit the camp, and seek advice and free medicines from all three modalities of treatment, allopathic, ‘hikmat’ and homeopathic, but it is not known which, if any, they follow. The discussion of removal of the allergy causing paper mulberry trees also came under light.
Dr. Osman informed the meeting that the allergy caused by paper mulberry pollens is the worst recorded in the world. Nowhere else have pollen asthma deaths been recorded so frequently, and neither have such high pollen counts been documented. He said that if the pollen counts crosses 5,000 per cubic metre in Europe, it is considered very high, while in Islamabad, they even cross 50,000. He said that is why there is very little literature regarding management of such severe allergy and asthma in the world.
The drug inspector of ICT Sardar Shabir Ahmed presented a talk on various pollen camps held to date, with data on patient turnout. He, along with District Health Officer Dr. Azhar, will be the camp coordinators.
Chaudhry Muhammad Ali appreciated the enthusiasm of members organising the camp. Pirzada responded by adding that the camp is meant for patients by the community in Islamabad. “The public sector should be invited to take ownership of the camp, and the office of the CC will act as a mediator. Not only doctors, pharmacists, ‘hakeems,’ homeopaths and pharmaceutical providers, but the public at large should be invited to partake in camp activities,” he proposed.
The representative of the Chemists Association suggested that since the Aabpara Community Centre is located at a distance for patients living in the 9, 10, 11 and 12 sectors of Islamabad, a similar camp should be organised in the G-9 Community Centre as well. Welcoming the suggestion, Tariq said, while this may not be possible this season due to resource constraints, the idea will be considered for the future. A suggestion for activation of a Task Force on Pollen Allergy, with Dr. Osman as its chair, was raised by Hakeem Rizwan. Agreeing, Pirzada invited a proposal in writing.
Dr. Osman reminded that a PC-1 had been prepared for elimination of paper mulberry and other allergy causing trees in the late 1990s, at which Dr. Azhar informed that a grant is due soon, and it is proposed to include a project for the control of paper mulberry as well as dengue virus infection.
Dr. Osman predicted that changing weather patterns would favour the spread of dengue virus infection this year, and more areas of Islamabad, adjacent to Rawalpindi, will be at a danger of being affected. He suggested that an expert committee should formulate scientific guidelines for the prevention and control of dengue fever and brochure publicising the preventive strategies should be distributed to every house in Islamabad. “In the meantime, people should be educated not to leave clean water standing in their homes in places like swimming pools, ponds, fountains, flower pots and other reservoirs. If they cannot be emptied, then a layer of kerosene oil can be put on top of the water to prevent breeding of mosquitoes,” he said.
Thanking the participants, Pirzada advised them to ensure provision of best possible treatment to pollen allergy patients. The camp may be extended past these dates, he added