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Indus Hospital, pharma company launch project to make Karachi rabies-free

By Our Correspondent
October 05, 2019

The Indus Hospital Network (IHN) on Friday announced it had entered into a strategic partnership with a local pharmaceutical company to eradicate rabies from Karachi.

As per the agreement, the local pharmaceutical firm would provide financial assistance, fund-raising support, and marketing expertise for the rabies-free Karachi (RFK) project of the Indus Hospital to eliminate rabies.

An announcement to launch Rabies Free Pakistan was made at a press conference at Indus Hospital Karachi, which was addressed by CEO Indus Hospital Prof Dr Abdul Bari Khan, Dr Naseem Salahuddin, Zindagi Trust founder Shehzad Roy, local pharmaceutical firm CEO Khalid Mahmood and others.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Naseem Salahuddin said that in Pakistan it is estimated that 160,000 dog-bites occur annually, resulting in almost 5,000 human deaths. Forty percent of the bitten victims are children, and ,ost deaths from rabies are not reported, since patients are taken to either faith healers or shrines, h added.

Compounding the issue of dog-bites are the dwindling supplies of essential anti-rabies vaccine and immunoglobulin. She said the vision of the RFK program was to implement an anti-rabies program by implementing the One-Health Approach recommended by World Health Organisation, World Organisation for Animal Health and Food and Agriculture Organisation.

The One-Health Approach aims to eradicate rabies universally by 2030 (#zeroby30). The killing of dogs is both cruel and ineffective, and RFK and Getz Pharma believe in vaccinations of dogs and reducing the dog population through surgical sterilisation.

After achieving success in the pilot phase, the RFK initiative is now scaling up its program to cover all of Karachi in order to eradicate the incidence of rabies from the city.

Dr Naseem Salahuddin maintained that the momentum had now become a movement to save the people from this dreaded disease. “We are grateful to the pharmaceutical firm for their tremendous support, and hope that other members of civil society and government institutions will join in this movement.”

The pharmaceutical firm, which is the founding partner of Indus Hospital’s Rabies-Free Karachi program to be implemented effectively all across the city by investing in preventive measures, will provide support for conducting epidemiologic research on dog-bites and rabies in Pakistan in order to record the factual statistics about their incidence.

It will also support the marketing activities of the program, which will raise awareness about rabies and promote kindness to animals. Regarding this partnership, Khalid Mahmood said, “We are part of several initiatives in the fields of education, healthcare, culture, and environment. Rabies is a fatal disease that affects both humans and dogs, and as a conscientious company that is concerned about public health, we want to ensure that it is eradicated from Pakistan. Indus Hospital has been fighting on this front and we will do our part in combating rabies.”

“Today, the Indus Hospital and Getz Pharma formalise their strategic partnership on the Rabies-Free Karachi initiative as they aim to save citizens from a dreaded disease. The plan is to achieve initial success in Karachi within two years and then to further scale up to the rest of the country,” he added.