KARACHI: A six-year-old boy, who was admitted to the National Institute of Child Health (NICH) over three weeks ago after being brutally bitten by half-a-dozen dogs in Larkana, died on Wednesday.
The boy, Hasnain, could not receive critical treatment in Larkana or any other district nearest to his home town and was brought to Karachi at the NICH on Nov 16.
According to NICH doctors, Hasnain had been admitted for 27 days during which he was treated by a panel of experts and underwent multiple surgeries
While doctors did not confirm that he had contracted rabies, they said the boy had been fighting “massive infections” and suffered from necrotising fasciitis — a rare bacterial infection often called ‘flesh-eating bacteria’ which spreads quickly in the body and can cause death.
PMA slams govt apathy towards dog-bite cases
Expressing deep sorrow over Hasnain’s death, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) called upon the government to make cities dog-free either through immediate culling or by shifting them to veterinary facilities.
It condemned the government’s apathy being shown towards a serious public issue.
“This indifference is outrageous. Nowhere in the civilised world you would find such apathy; women, children, the old are being attacked, mauled and killed by stray dogs every other day across the province and the government could neither protect [them] from these furious animals nor provide life-saving treatment at its healthcare facilities,” said Dr Qaiser Sajjad, the PMA-centre secretary general.
The PMA demands immediate culling of stray dogs
The provincial government, he said, was failing to protect the lives of its citizens, which was evident from the fact that rabid dogs had claimed lives of 26 people so far, whereas the number of dog-bite victims ran into hundreds and thousands.
“And, this is just the tip of [the] iceberg. The situation is pretty bad in the interior of Sindh with much poorer civic conditions and attracting less media coverage,” he observed, adding that the job of the government was to protect human life first by tackling the root cause.
“Everyone knows that dogs could be dangerous and must not be allowed to roam around unattended. It’s the government’s job to make neighbourhoods safe for citizens,” he said.
He was of the opinion that the issue of dog bite and rabies had reached an alarming level and required actions such as culling of dogs in areas reporting larger number of dog-bite cases or shifting them to veterinary facilities.
“The initiative to control dog population and address rabies issue through vaccination and neutering animals is an ad hoc approach and a long-term solution.
“The province needs immediate action and that could only be done through culling dogs. If the government cared so much for animal rights, they should shift the animals to veterinary facilities where they could be cared for, vaccinated and neutered,” he said.
Citing some research, Dr Sajjad said several studies had established a strong linkage between heaps of garbage and growing dog population.
“For a sustainable solution, the government needs to develop an efficient solid waste transportation and disposal mechanism. This would also help address other health problems linked to poor civic conditions, such as spread of mosquito-borne diseases,” he said.
Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2019