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March 14, 2019

Taming typhoid

Editorial

 
March 14, 2019

The dangerous XDR typhoid which is sweeping across Sindh and also reaching other parts of the country could have been easily controlled. But failures of governance did not let that happen. Safe drinking water to the people of Karachi would have largely helped prevent the disease from taking hold. The reality is, as discussed at a seminar hosted by the PMA, that according to reports there is not a single tap in Karachi which offers uncontaminated water.

This basic problem costs us thousands of lives each year. The strain of typhoid that has now taken hold has a morbidity of 412.9 per one hundred thousand persons for children aged 5 to 15. This is the group which is most often falling prey to the disease, often as a result of consuming contaminated food or beverages. It is also a fact that the blatant misuse of antibiotics has led to the surfacing of disease types which do not respond to medication or vaccines. As a result, almost half the cases of typhoid being reported in Karachi are of the XDR variety. The drugs usually used for the treatment of typhoid simply do not work. Cases have also been reported from Badin, Mirpurkhas and other parts of Sindh. There have also been reports of XDR typhoid in Lahore and other cities.

The government has also failed its people in not being able to acquire the conjugate vaccine manufactured only by one company which could prevent the disease. A private hospital in Karachi has already acquired a stock of the vaccine and is using it to protect children in Lyari and other areas. The Sindh government hopes to have the vaccine by the end of May. There are several lessons to be learnt here. In the first place, medical practitioners must be made aware of the dangers of overusing antibiotics. Self-medication by patients also needs to be discouraged. Most important of all is to give Karachi – and the whole country, in fact – a safe supply of water and to ensure that the vaccine that can save people from such a fatal disease is obtained without further delay.

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