ISLAMABAD, July 27: An emergency meeting that was held to review the outbreak of diseases due to the recent floods in the country was told here on Wednesday that 49,205 cases of gastroenteritis were reported from 38 districts of which over 140 people died.
Presided over by Director-General Health Dr Abdul Majid Rajput, the meeting was called on the directives of Health Minister Muhammad Nasir Khan in which stakeholders from the four provinces also participated.
The meeting, held here at the National Institute of Health (NIH), took stock of the current situation of gastroenteritis in the country and reviewed measures to address the problem.
Outlining the current scenario of the disease, Dr Jaleel Kamran of NIH Epidemic Investigation Cell (EIC) said that 49,205 cases had been reported in which over 140 people lost their lives.
The meeting noted with concern the death toll in different parts of the country.
About the quality of water, the meeting was informed that NIH was providing service for water testing of different samples received from all over the country. Water samples from areas with outbreaks including Larkana, Jacobabad, Kohat, Rawalpindi, Chakwal, Muzaffarabad and Zhob were found contaminated.
Representatives from the Public Health Engineering Department and Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) told the meeting that their role was of utmost importance, as patients could be treated only when they fell ill but before that the role of stakeholders was very important.
Dr Majid Rajput said a plan of action for prevention and control of gastroenteritis had been sent to all the four provinces by the health ministry on June 30 in which they were asked to ensure its implementation at the district level. The same plan has also been provided to the Emergency Relief Cell of the Cabinet Division.
He also offered federal government’s support to the provinces for prevention and control of gastroenteritis.
The meeting also brought together high-ranking officials from the provincial health departments including director Public Health from Punjab and director-general health from AJK besides officials from the departments concerned.
From April this year, the flow of gastroenteritis patients started increasing in the public and private sector hospitals where people suffered and the country witnessed an increased level of morbidity and mortality, remarked Prof Dr Karamat A. Karamat, the NIH executive director. The EIC of the institute has been monitoring the situation in different parts of the country, he informed.
Dr Mohammed Najeeb Khan, the health education advisor of the health ministry, presented a comprehensive media strategy and stressed the need for raising awareness of the preventive measures.
Stressing the importance of Disease Early Warning System, Dr Birjees Mazher Kazi, Chief Public Health Laboratory, Division of NIH, said a highly sensitive and efficient Disease Early Warning System was in place in the country. However, there was need to ensure optimal implementation of the system.
Acting WHO Representative to Pakistan, Dr Najeebullah Mujaddedi commended the efforts being made by the government and offered all out technical assistance of the WHO in investigating the outbreaks and developing of strategies for prevention of the disease.