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PESHAWAR: The World Health Organisation has issued guidelines on utilisation of a consignment of 30,000 injections handed over to health department for treatment of the people infected with cutaneous leishmaniasis to get good results.

The WHO as its first priority wants to provide treatment to the leishmaniasis patients and then take measures for prevention of the skin ailment. The disease, according to experts, is not fatal but causes lifelong scarring leading to disfigurement of faces and limbs and therefore the infected people, especially women, face social rejection.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Secretary Dr Syed Farooq Jamil received the injections from Dr Saeed Akbar Khan, head of the WHO sub-office in Peshawar on Thursday. The drug would be administered to the affected people in the endemic parts of the province.

WHO wants to take measures for prevention of disease

It was the second consignment as a fortnight ago the world health agency has given 10,000 injections, especially imported from France on the request of the health department, to the authorities concerned.

The population in merged tribal district is the worst affected as officials say that they have registered about 30,000 leishmaniasis patients, who require immediate treatment.

Officials in the health department said that the WHO also issued guidelines regarding the administration of the injections so that good results could be achieved.

The department has sent the same guidelines to the hospitals to provide treatment to the people as soon as possible.

Dr Qutbuddin Kakar, the national professional officer of WHO, told Dawn that they would start a prevention programme in the second stage to scale up public awareness about staying safe from the bites of sand flies and avoid the disease.

He said that along with academic information regarding the disease, doctors would also be given practical training at the CL Centre established by MSF at Naseerullah Khan Babar Memorial Hospital, Peshawar.

The injection is not registered in Pakistan and therefore not available in the medical stores. The department totally banks on the world health agency for the treatment of the patients.

“We are holding a five-day workshop for dermatologists of all the provinces in Peshawar where 10 participants from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and two each from other three provinces would be imparted training regarding leishmaniasis, its causes and management. The event will be started on April 15,” he said.

Dr Qutbuddin said that the training regarding vector control was the most important to be able to do away with the disease and protect the people.

He said that the participants of the workshop would act as master trainers in the respective provinces.

“A WHO expert is arriving from Tunisia for training of case management of the ailment and other neglected tropical diseases. The trainer would also inform the participants regarding use of injections and thermal methods of treatment,” he said.

Dr Qutbuddin said that the ailment was endemic in the province, especially in the areas located along the border with Afghanistan.

Officials in the health department said that the UN health agency wanted measures for vector control and was asking for deployment of entomologists to deal with the sand flies that were responsible for transmitting the infection to people.

Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2019