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PESHAWAR: Pregnant women vulnerable to hepatitis

April 20, 2006

PESHAWAR, April 19: The World Health Organization on Wednesday warned that hepatitis-E was fatal for pregnant women after 17 cases of the viral disease were detected in the earthquake-hit Balakot district. The global health watchdog’s fortnightly stressed the need for hospitalising suspected cases of jaundice for immediate treatment.

The report titled ‘WHO Response to Pakistan Earthquake’ warned about the hazards of damaged water network and said: “(The disease) is very difficult to eliminate from the water even with very high levels of chlorine, the approach is to ensure safe water supply systems combined with extensive health information and education.” said the report.

First two cases of acute jaundice had been reported from a field hospital in the Kashtara camp, while four more cases were identified in Brakot village in Balakot tehsil.

Four of the six hepatitis E cases cases confirmed by the National Institute of Health, Islamabad, originated from the Dhamkacha village, adding that 11 more cases were detected there.

It said that public health measures had been taken by improving the quality of drinking water, dissemination of health education messages.

The Unicef, it said, had provided a tank to solve the problem of water shortage in the Ganhool Cuban Hospital in Balakot. It said that after the construction of 120 incinerators, the WHO distributed 50 incinerators to improve medical waste disposal facilities in Balakot, adding that the world health body had shifted its focus to the provision of bins.

Three suspected cases of measles were reported from the Meira camp and Allai Kalley in Battagram while six more were reported from Mansehra.

The WHO also donated 100 vials of anti-rabies vaccine to the executive district officer (EDO) in Battagram as part of its campaign to bolster its anti-rabies programme. The report, compiled from inputs from 215 health facilities in the province, said that on an average over 89,000 persons visited health facilities every week.

The number of acute respiratory infection (ARI) was decreasing against the incidence reported earlier while the number of patients suffering from acute diarrhoea was 227 and was expected to record an increase in the coming weeks because of the changing weather.

It said that plans were being prepared to contain potential cholera outbreaks.

The report said that the WHO, UNFPA and other partner organisations were looking into the possibility of increasing the frequency of reporting about neonatal deaths at district headquarters hospital in Mansehra.