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October 16, 2019

Sindh has 16,000 vaccine vials to treat dog-bite patients, PA told


October 16, 2019

Around 16,000 vials of vaccine are available across Sindh to treat dog bite cases, the provincial assembly was informed by the health minister on Tuesday amid serious health alert caused due to the menace of stray dogs.

Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho made the announcement while responding to the verbal and written queries of lawmakers during the PA session’s question hour. She said the rabies vaccine is available at least at every district level public hospital in the province.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Haleem Adil Sheikh said that some 100,000 dog bite cases have been reported across Sindh in just a month. He asked what the provincial government has been doing to deal with the situation if the federal administration is not providing the rabies vaccine to them.

Dr Azra told him that the provincial health department does not have the facility to produce the vaccine. She said the Centre is under an obligation to import the vaccines to fulfil the needs of the provinces.

Responding to Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) legislator Javed Hanif’s query about steps taken by the provincial government to tackle hepatitis and dog bite cases, the minister said they have been fulfilling their obligations. “We’ll fight it out wherever it exists. We’re not disappointed, as we’ve been fulfilling our obligations.” She said that blood screening is necessary to detect hepatitis, and that afterwards due precautionary measures should be adopted by the people diagnosed with the disease.

PTI lawmaker Saeed Afridi said that some 24 dog bite cases have been reported just in Karachi’s Nazimabad neighbourhood, but no vaccine is available to treat them at the nearby Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH). He informed the House that an assistant sub-inspector at the local police station was also bitten when he tried to catch the stray dogs, following which the Sindh Rangers was called in to control the situation.

Dr Azra said that as far as the ASH was concerned, the health facility does not come under the administrative control of the Sindh government and the city mayor is responsible for providing the vaccines to the hospital. She admitted that there is a shortage of specialists at government hospitals across the province, but the Sindh Public Service Commission has been asked to overcome the situation, and some 600 new doctors have lately been hired.

To another question, the health minister said that some 15 doctors associated with the provincial government’s heath service had been dismissed from service on the basis of their biometric attendance record, as they had been serving abroad.

Bhittai resolution

The PA unanimously passed a resolution to pay homage to Sufi saint and poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai on the occasion of his 276th Urs. The motion was jointly moved by the treasury and opposition lawmakers: the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Qasim Siraj Soomro, the Grand Democratic Alliance’s Nand Kumar Goklani and the MQM-P’s Muhammad Hussain Khan.

Soomro said Bhittai had spread the message of peace and Sufism for resolving the issues over which fighting was taking place in the present-day world. He said a centre should be established at Bhittai’s shrine in Bhit Shah to spread the message of peace and tolerance. He also said Sindh has always spread the message of tolerance, peace and brotherhood since the time of Mohenjo Daro, adding that the House is under an obligation to spread Bhittai’s message among the people.

Khan said Bhittai does not belong only to Sindh or Pakistan but to the entire world. He urged the writers and poets of the province to translate Bhittai’s message into Urdu as well as the popular languages of the world.

PPP legislator Heer Ismail Soho said the PA had the distinction of paying homage to Bhittai every year, adding that the Sufi poet had covered every important issue confronting mankind in the current times.

24 cases overnight

Around two dozen people were injured on Monday night when a stray dog attacked them in the Federal C Area of Liaquatabad. They were taken to different hospitals, while police, Rangers and volunteers of welfare organisations launched a night-long hunt for the canine, which was later found dead.

“I was near my home when a stray dog appeared from somewhere and suddenly attacked me. I wasn’t expecting this and the animal injured my face and hands,” said Muhammad Younus.

Other people were also bitten by the stray dog within a few hours, including a sub-inspector of the area police who had reached there to rescue the frightened people, who had been phoning police, Rangers and welfare organisations, including the Edhi Foundation. Fear and panic gripped the entire FC Area and the adjoining localities after the people started spreading the message that a mad dog had been attacking people, while a large number of law enforcers also rushed to the neighbourhood.

Younus said he had called a friend for help who took him to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH), but when they reached there, they were astonished to learn that the so-called tertiary-care health facility had neither the rabies vaccine nor anything for first aid at its emergency.

“Several people were brought to the ASH’s emergency due to dog bite wounds, but they were told that no vaccine was available. They were asked to purchase it from the medical stores outside. I was told that I should even buy the syringes and other required things because nothing was available at the hospital.” ASH emergency department incharge Dr Jahanzeb claimed before the media that around 13 dog-bite victims were brought to the hospital and they were administered the first dose of the rabies vaccine and also provided first aid.

He said people from different age groups had suffered light to moderate wounds, adding that perhaps some of the patients preferred other hospitals for vaccination and treatment.

Three patients managed to reach the emergency of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and were provided first aid and vaccination at the hospital’s dog bite centre, said JPMC Executive Director Dr Seemin Jamali.

An official of the Indus Hospital Korangi said they had received two victims and added that they were vaccinated after first aid and were asked to visit again for the next dose of the rabies vaccine. The search for the rabid dog had continued the entire night by the police, Rangers, volunteers of the Edhi Foundation and the locals. The hunt ended after the dog was found dead in the bushes on Tuesday morning.