KARACHI: Amid frequent reports of cases of gastroenteritis in hospitals in Karachi and other parts of Sindh on a daily basis, health professionals and experts asked the authorities on Sunday to create awareness among people about prevention of food and waterborne diseases to minimise the number of deaths.

They said that public sector health facilities were under an immense pressure as hundreds of people, including children, suffering from acute gastroenteritis were brought every day.

They asked the authorities concerned and corporate sector to allocate funds for research on gastrointestinal diseases, waterborne ailments and blood-borne infections, including viral hepatitis for effective and comprehensive medical solutions against such epidemics.

They were speaking at a ceremony of signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Pak GI and Liver Disease Society (PGLDS) and a local pharmaceutical firm for the launch of ‘PGLDS Research Awards’ to be given to 10 top researchers for their papers in the field of gastroenterology during the forthcoming annual conference of the society in June 2022.

The senior gastroenterologists also advised people to take precautionary measures by drinking clean water and avoiding uncooked food from roadside vendors.

“There is an outbreak of acute gastroenteritis in Karachi and other cities of Sindh and hundreds of patients, including children, are being brought to hospitals for the treatment.

“Watery diarrhoea was a serious health issue which could take life of a healthy person within hours if immediate medical treatment was not provided to the patient,” said Prof Amanullah Abbasi, a senior gastroenterologist associated with the PGLDS, while speaking at the MoU signing ceremony.

He claimed that the research conducted by Pakistani experts also helped the world in understanding Covid-19 as dozens of papers on signs and symptoms of the coronavirus and its management were published in international journals.

He urged the government and private sector to come forward and provide more funds for research in common health issues, including gastrointestinal disorders and waterborne diseases in Pakistan.

Atif Iqbal, managing director of High-Q (the local pharmaceutical firm which is providing funds for the research in the field of gastroenterology, said that in addition to funding, they were going to import latest technology and artificial intelligence (AI)-based solutions for the detection of gastrointestinal disorders in Pakistan.

“But we also need to conduct research locally to come up with our own solutions to the problems facing our people. We at High-Q believe in promoting research and would provide all the resources to the young doctors and postgraduate fellows,” Mr Iqbal said. The awards would encourage and promote the culture of research in the field of gastroenterology and other areas of medical profession in the country, he added.

PGLDS patron Dr Shahid Ahmed informed that 10 young researchers would be awarded cash prizes for their research in the field of gastroenterology at the 4th annual conference of the society being held in June 2022 in Karachi.

Young doctors and trainees from regional countries and other parts of the world could also submit their papers for the research awards, he said.

Renowned gastroenterologist Dr Lubna Kamani deplored that due to inexperience and extremely busy hours, most of the young Pakistani health physicians were unaware of the art of medical writing.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2022

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