After Islamabad, the population in Rawalpindi district is facing a great threat of getting pollen allergy or acute asthma in result of continuously increasing number of paper mulberry trees in the district within the past few years.
Data collected by ‘The News’ has revealed that the number of cases of pollen allergy in Rawalpindi is increasing every year. The medicine departments at all the three teaching hospitals in town have been receiving significant influx of patients with pollen allergy and the number is continuously on the rise.
“During March this year, the allied hospitals have received over 2,800 patients with pollen allergy of which nearly 100 patients were admitted while four were put on ventilators after facing life threat though luckily, they survived,” said Chairman Young Doctors Association Punjab Dr. Muhammad Haroon while talking to ‘The News’.
He added that the number of patients of pollen allergy in Rawalpindi is on the rise mainly because of the unnoticed increase in number of paper mulberry trees here and due to some effects of the trees in Islamabad. He said that the concerned authorities have not been taking serious notice of the issue that might become a great health threat in future.
It is important that according to estimates, nearly 10 per cent of the total population in Islamabad have already become allergic patients because of the paper mulberry and its species which is considered as the greatest causes of pollen allergy. Now the plant is putting population of Rawalpindi at risk.
Paper mulberry from ‘Broussonetia papyrifera’ class and Moraceae family — commonly known as ‘Jangli Shahtoot’ — nearly 2000 years ago was used by the Chinese for production of paper, had taken as an ornamental tree some six decades back but recently experts say it an unwelcome weed of natural areas worldwide.
Capital Development Authority (CDA) had brought the tree to beautify Islamabad almost three decades back that made thousands of residents patients of asthma apart from many other kinds of allergies. Producer of tonnes of pollens in the air during its flowering season, the tree makes it almost impossible for pollen allergy patients to live a normal life and as well as put their lives at great risk due to asthmatic indications.
During spring, the pollen count of Paper Mulberry almost shoots to 40,000 plus per cubic metre in the air while count for other trees does not exceed from one hundred per cubic metre or so. The mulberry pollens damage IgE class of antibodies — defensive antibodies from parasitic infection — and affect blood arteries badly. By increasing quantity of mucus in the chest, the paper mulberry pollens cause acute asthma.
Dr. Haroon said that the colonies of paper mulberry are growing continuously in Rawalpindi even within the heart of town and at the vacant spaces all along Murree Road. “Interesting fact is that the paper mulberry trees are present even within the premises of the three allied hospitals,” he said.
“The best way to get rid of the threats being posed is cutting off the paper mulberry trees that cause allergy,” he said. He added that health experts have repeatedly expressed that the increasing number of paper mulberry trees in the district is putting general public at high risk of becoming allergic to pollen but the concerned authorities have so far given no attention to the issue.
Like other health experts, Dr. Haroon is also of the opinion that the paper mulberry might cause much more disaster in Rawalpindi than it did in Islamabad because even less number of pollen count in Rawalpindi might trap a great part of population easily due to existence of heavy pollution in the air.
Experts believe that the paper mulberry directly or indirectly causes allergy in more than fifty per cent of total allergics. Its pollens may travel a distance of 400 kilometres making it the most dangerous tree for general public and allergics. Within 30 to 40 kilometres, its pollens affect public badly while making its (the tree) deforestation much difficult due to its invading quality.
Expressing deep concern, Dr. Haroon said that the YDA demands the city government to take necessary measures to get rid of the fast growing colonies of the paper mulberry in Rawalpindi. “The YDA has also planned to ask hospitals’ administrations to remove paper mulberry trees immediately from the hospitals’ premises,” he said.
Dr. Haroon added that the YDA is also working out to launch an awareness campaign on the subject for the sake of general public.
The allied hospitals have received over 2,800 patients with pollen allergy of which nearly 100 patients were admitted while four were put on ventilators after facing life threat though luckily, they survived.
Pollen allergy in Rawalpindi is on the rise mainly because of the unnoticed increase in number of paper mulberry trees here