KARACHI: Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho claimed on Friday that dog-bite cases were “mishandled” by citizens as the victims were often brought to hospitals quite late and the delay caused their death.

She was speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a workshop — ‘New anti-leishmanial lead from natural sources: concept and approaches’ — held at Karachi University (KU).

The international workshop was jointly organised by the Panjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD) and the UK-based Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) network. Scholars from 20 countries are participating in the workshop.

“Precious time is lost when a person is bitten by a dog. Such cases must be immediately reported to a hospital so that the victim receives an anti-rabies vaccine. Otherwise, the victim could die, if the animal was carrying the deadly rabies virus,” said the health minister.

The minister said the delay in reporting such cases to hospitals occurred because of a lack of public awareness about the virus.

“Usually, people initially try unproven local remedies on the patient, which obviously don’t work,” she said, emphasising that collective efforts were needed to make Sindh rabies-free.

She, however, conceded that public-sector hospitals lacked sufficient quantities of anti-rabies vaccine but argued that the National Institute of Health (NIH), Islamabad was not preparing the vaccine in adequate quantities.

‘Dengue in Karachi under control’

To another question, she said dengue was affecting people across the country and the situation regarding this disease was very much under control in Karachi as compared to what was happening in other areas.

Earlier, speaking at the workshop’s opening ceremony, she said leishmaniasis, a tropical disease, was endemic to Pakistan and that the event would help scientists discuss strategies to control and treat the disease.

Prof Dr Atta-ur-Rahman, the chairman of the Prime Minister’s National Task Force on Science and Technology, said neglected tropical diseases were a diverse group of communicable diseases, prevailing in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries, affecting more than one billion people.

He pointed out that only two per cent drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration were for these diseases over the last 25 years.

Aziz Latif Jamal, the chairman of the Husein Ebrahim Jamal Foundation, said the theme of this event was very relevant to the current healthcare challenges of the country, as the nation faced a triple burden of infectious, metabolic and genetic diseases.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2019